It was quite a relief when we spotted a recent post for motoring blog The Clipping Point. It showed an image of the revised and improved deployment of concrete barriers at Skyway-Osmeña Highway, specifically at the south bound approach of the Skyway on ramp. These barriers are meant to prevent illegal U-turns and swerving by motorists descending from the Buendia flyover, into the Skyway on ramp. Without these barriers, motorists from Buendia flyover have been defying the rules of safe driving and lane merging by cutting into the path of the Skyway on ramp and whatever freight traffic that may be entering the Osmeña Highway main carriageway, while the highway is under major rehabilitation up to the critical Magallanes interchange.
Bothersome at grade
Since taking the Buendia flyover will no longer allow access to the Skyway on ramp, motorists are forced to take the at-grade Osmeña Highway-Buendia service road, in front of Cash and Carry. Most times, there's a long wait for the traffic light cycles of 3 sets of traffic lights before getting to the Skyway on ramp, but an astute motorist posted this alternative route; from the Buendia flyover, one can merge to the rightmost lane of the Osmeña Highway, then turn right into Rockefeller St., then right again to Batangas St., and finally, right on Faraday, the very street where the Skyway-Buendia junction is positioned to ease entry to the Skyway on ramp. What this route now needs are a couple of proper signs to direct traffic to take this wise loop diversion.
Though it is a roundabout path, it is far safer than the former set up where naughty motorists descending from Buendia flyover have been known to stop and counterflow southbound traffic on the service road to access Faraday. Also, some of our daredevil stunt driver buses use this junction as an impromptu bus stop, blocking traffic, before they ascend the Skyway on ramp.
Admittedly, these Makati side streets quickly go under water at the slightest downpour, but then the whole Buendia-Osmeña highway section, despite the flood control digging on Chino Roces for the past 5 years, need several of Sec. Singson's giant subterranean catch basins like those DPWH has been building in Manila. This is even more imperative as Citra will soon be pile driving columns for the Skyway Stage 3 in this location. Moreover, excavating Buendia Ave. and Arnaiz Ave. into deep man-made rivers that drain through the Pasay side reclamation of Manila Bay is not a viable option.
This danger spot was already a matter of concern several years ago, a matter intensely discussed with Skyway O&M officers, Chito Borromeo [now with SLTC-SLEx] and Ed Nepomuceno [now retired]. At that time, Skyway were waiting coordinative responses from government agencies MMDA and DPWH.
Don Bosco danger spot
Another danger spot that we discussed then was the Manila bound Skyway off-ramp into Don Bosco. For quite sometime, motorists descending/exiting the Skyway and planning to merge into the Osmeña highway at grade section faced the possibility of being cut off by motorists coming from the at-grade segment, turning right into and across the railroad crossing going to Don Bosco.
There was a previous diversion some years ago when concrete barriers directed at-grade Osmeña Highway traffic heading for Don Bosco to Arnaiz Ave. junction, to turn right into the Estacion St. service road and left to Don Bosco. This meant direct right turn access to Don Bosco St. was exclusive to those exiting the Skyway off ramp, eliminating the dangerous merging conflict, while traffic from Don Bosco entering the Osmeña Highway, was allowed. But somehow, discussions with other concerned agencies to a return to this safer diversion were suspended when Don Bosco was dug up for the Chino Roces flood management culvert. Now that this is finished, it would be good to revive these discussions. To implement the former diversion today would mean widening Estacion St. as it is currently packed with parked cars owing to several high rise condos in the vicinity. Or even prohibit on street parking though the locals would surely protest. There was an option to move the Don Bosco railroad crossing closer to Arnaiz Ave. but this was deemed too costly and may complicate the existing traffic patterns.
Another improvement that these Osmeña Highway areas needs are better barriers/gates for the Railroad crossings, and even a proper railroad crossing under the Sales Interchange in the SLEx further south. These barriers should be built to international standards. The poles should block the entire width of the roadway and not just half. Moreover, the poles should have vertical elements – like reflectorized red and white vertical vinyl strips, like those office sun blinds or plastic chains - hanging under the poles so as to block access below the pole. Inexpensive LED fairy lights can also festoon these barriers so that motorists will not miss them in poor visibility conditions.
Filipino drivers are not reputed to be expert lane changers nor are they adept in merging as they are in horn blowing, passing lane hogging and tailgating. This is why road engineering furniture like the proper barriers and signs help channel traffic flow safely where human intuition fails.