Always half full?
Thanks to the frailties of the human psyche, we are apt to remember what we see standing and not what could have been. This helps a lot for people, like me, who prefer to see the glass as half full than half empty.
Fortunately or unfortunately for us, our memories are of such short a span and usually selective at that. What brings up this soliloquy is the significance of one, albeit partial, inauguration and two groundbreakings that the President attended over Christmas and after New Year. After all, if one wishes to be remembered, one will be better remembered for what one builds rather than what one failed to build.
By that time, when one drives, end to end, over any one of these three: 1., the TPLEx from Balincawanay, Tarlac to Rosario, La Union 2., Skyway Stage 3 from Buendia to Balintawak and 3., the NLEx Metro Expwy from Valenzuela to PUP in the heart of Manila, one will always remember the achievements of the Aquino administration. Mind you, the small scale is not neglected; the Lawton-Sta. Monica [Fort to Capitol Commons] bridge across the Pasig river, though small, is not any less significant particularly to the county's most congested square kilometer. Consider too that for the 9 years GMA was in power, only one bridge, the Estrella bridge at Rockwell, made it across the Pasig river. That's not all, for BCDA would have built yet another new flyover beside SM Aura to help traffic exit the congestion of BGC [Bonifacio Global City] and after a few years of even worsening Makati traffic, DPWH should have finished the Buendia/Makati Ave. underpass.
With only less than two years left for the current administration to pack in as much infrastructure building to enhance its legacy, the biggest impact will be in Southern Metro Manila. If only the authorities can cope with the proposals and approve quick implementation, South Metro Manila will be criss crossed with much needed connector roads.
Linking to Sen. Villar's extension
The first is the CAVITEx-C-5 connector. This vital link will also necessitate the conversion of the C-5 SLEx junction into a full functioning interchange handling more traffic destinations. This will greatly relieve EDSA, SLEx and the upcoming NAIA Expressway, which should carry predominantly NAIA departures and arrivals.
The end of service road hell?
The second is Citra-Skyway's [MIFR] Merville Interchange and Feeder Road, which should integrate with the CAVITEx-C5 link. It too, would greatly relieve the daily 14 hour traffic jams that clog the Service Roads astride the SLEx.
Gambling city express lanes
The third is the NAIA Expressway, which will connect the Skyway to the Entertainment City, Macapagal Ave. and the northern end of CAVITEx.
The fourth, which should start when the NAIA expressway is operational. This is DPWH's toll free EDSA roller coaster of a flyover from Malibay to Roxas Blvd.
All this would prove to be an interesting sight from the air as all the on ramps and off ramps of the interchanges with Skyway and CAVITEx will look like the proverbial spaghetti junction.
FTI to NLEEx
But that's not all. When the former FTI becomes a multi-modal transport hub to augment the South Station, there will be links to C-5 and C-6 which is Citra's Skyway Stage 4 Metro Manila East Expressway that will initially lead to the Batasan area and further Northeast to San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan to link with the NLEEx [North Luzon East Expwy] originating from Commonwealth. [if and when the NLEEx private sector proponent 's financial package passes muster].
The coming of TR4
By 2016 a fully operational Skyway Stage 3 and NLEx Metro Expressway connector will very quickly channel traffic from the NLEx straight through Metro-Manila. Hence the onus would then be for the SLEx TR4 to already begin extending from Sto. Tomas to Lucena City and beyond, while STAR can widen to 2x2 carriageways all the way to Batangas City.
It won't end there. NLEx, by then should have full 3x3 carriageways from Sta. Rita to San Fernando and 2x2 carriageways to Sta. Inez. If the SCTEx is finally integrated with NLEx O&M, the Dau and Mabalacat toll gates would be history. Perhaps, TPLEx and SCTEx-NLEX can even come to an arrangement like the Skyway-SLEx collection system where Skyway Nichols collects for SLEx northbound and SLEx Calamba collects for Skyway southbound. That would mean the major TPLEx toll plaza would be way north at Rosario, La Union. And as Ambassador E. Cojuangco announced at an SMC stockholders' meeting, SMC Infra is ready to extend the TPLEx to Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
Too many toll plazas
With all these new tollways and expressways, we foresee that traffic at toll plazas will be the new bottleneck. All the more reason that this early, toll collection agreements like that between Skyway and SLEx be encourage to reduce the number toll plazas. Imagine, a journey from Buendia to Baguio via Skyway Stage 3, NLEx, SCTEx and TPLEx will necessitate a motorist queueing 7 times to pay toll!
This early, TRB should mandate promotion of ETC to reduce toll paying queues at toll plazas, what with all kinds of cash cards and cash tags being the rage. Which will add up to different existing modes of payment via RFID tags [Easy Trip and E-PASS], toll card [E-Tag] and RFID sticker. But to do this necessitates a clearing house of for toll payments, much like the way cheques of hundreds of banks are cleared by the Philippine Clearing House. Government just needs to mandate this clearing house and the private sector can take up the investment. Easy Trip or perhaps E-PASS may be willing to fund establishing such a clearing house.
Still too many in limbo
Today we can already see the earth works for the Daang Hari expressway SLEx junction. The CaLaEx or Cavite-Laguna expressway from Mamplasan SLEx to Kawit CAVITEx is still in the bidding stage. The C6 Skyway Stage 4 Metro Manila East Expressway, Central Luzon Expressway from SCTEx to Aurora province, the Laguna lakeshore Expressway, the adjustable Ro-ro ports, the NAIA rail link, the NLEx segment 8 to Commonwealth Ave. C5, North Rail, Bicol Express and the NLEEx, some of which dated from the GMA and ERAP era are still in limbo. To this date the LRT and MRT still isn't linked. We are still waiting for the new style plate numbers. Most of the buses do not comply with new labor regulations nor do they have mandatory speed limiters. Many of the buses are still colorum. The MRT and the LRT are still as crowded as hell, and fares are still subsidized by the billions.
No more trial by publicity
While undoubtedly not such a bad achievement, it is our hope that the next administration makes up for lost time by not ditching, dissing and junking projects of the previous administration/s just because it isn't the proposer/progenitor/prime mover. While not all projects are corruption free, a zero tolerance stand on corruption should always begin with innocent until proven guilty rather than guilty until proven innocent.
Enjoy the drive
As for the President, the grateful nation should let him get on with his love life. And his driving a Porsche.