If there's one major infrastructure in the country that proved we can actually build bridges that connect two different provinces, it's the San Juanico Bridge. Constructed in the late 60s and opened to the public in 1973, the 2.16-km bridge meant motorists from Leyte and Samar can now cross the San Juanico Strait without having to travel by water.
But since its opening nearly 50 years ago, more and more motorists are now using the San Juanico Bridge in order to get to their destinations. In 2019, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that traffic volume on the bridge was estimated to be at 7,200 vehicles daily, close to its 10,000 daily capacity. By 2030, they estimated that it will increase to 10,900 every day which will exceed its daily limit.
In order to alleviate traffic volume from the original bridge, the DPWH has proposed building another bridge that will connect Leyte to Samar. According to DPWH Eastern Visayas Regional Director Allan Borromeo, the conduct of the initial feasibility study for the proposed project has been completed and it passed the 10% economic internal rate of return set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
As a result, the national government will need PHP 9.17 billion to build the second bridge in order to offload some of the traffic the first bridge is currently experiencing. The proposed budget will be used for the construction of the bridge superstructure, substructure embankment, concrete girders, and relocation of power transmission lines.
“The land transportation between the islands of Samar and Leyte depends only on the existing San Juanico Bridge with two lanes built in the 1960s. The traffic volume has been increasing every year,” said Borromeo.
Once approved, the proposed bridge will connect the towns of Babatngon, Leyte, and Sta. Rita, Samar. It will cross the Janbatas Channel, a portion of the San Juanico Strait that separates the region’s two major islands. It will measure 1.24-km and will start in Guintigui-an village in Babatngon, Leyte before terminating in San Pascual village in Sta. Rita, Samar.
With the San Juanico Bridge facing issues such as aging and high-maintenance costs, the proposal to build another bridge to complement the nearly 50-year-old structure will offload the increasing traffic flow between the two provinces. But with a proposed budget of PHP 9.17 billion, it could be one of the country's most expensive projects to date.