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EDITED MEMORIES | A bridge too near

By Wenifredo Gorrez

IN THE 1970s, there was a movie entitled ” A Bridge Too Far.” It was based on a true special operation of the Allied Forces to capture a bridge held by the NAZIs deep and far in a forest in the Netherlands. The mission failed basically because the detailed operation plans were based on weak intelligence gathering and lacked the all-out support of the local Dutch people nearby.

The Samal Island-Davao City Connector Bridge [SIDC Bridge] is a bridge too near to where I live and I am quite sure that it will create a massive traffic gridlock In Lanang and R.Castillo St. during its construction and even after it is finished. 

I am not against any bridge that would connect Samal to Davao City. In 2015, JICA, or the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, presented a feasibility study paid for by our government which concluded that the best site for this bridge would be around the old airport road in Davao City and in Caliclic in Samal. The Rodriguez family even offered their property in Samal for free for this. 

The people in Samal have been asking for this bridge for decades, and I am sure it will help them tremendously once it is done. However, there are several issues that have to be settled before DPWH can implement this PHP 23 Billion project and start digging the foundations of the first massive post of this bridge.  Some of these issues are now in the Supreme Court.

Some people in the media are blaming the Rodriguez family’s filing of a case that has now reached the Supreme Court for the standstill. What is filed there is a petition for a  Temporary Restraining Order for the project to proceed until various procedural issues are resolved. Some of these involve the process of DENR’s issuance of an Environmental Clearance Certificate or ECC and the way the city councils of both cities gave their seal of approval long before the required ECC came out as required by law. This TRO has not been granted yet, and so this project can proceed as scheduled.

The SIDC bridge project is not held up by the case filed by the Rodriguez family at the Supreme Court. It is in limbo because DPWH, up to now, has not come out with the Detailed Engineering Design, which would show where the posts for the bridge will be located. 

I also gathered that the Right of Way costs and negotiations is a problem that is far from being settled.

Sometime in 2020, I joined a Zoom hearing for the approval of the ECC of this project and got a hard copy of their indicative plans for where the massive post for the bridge exit and entrance will be located from Brgy. Hizon to R.Castillo. The soil samplings they did show that the locations of the post will be the same. This will make this four-lane area into a two-lane massive traffic gridlock. 

In the fourth quarter of last year, I was invited to attend several joint committee hearings of the city council on the SIDC bridge project. I was invited because of a letter I wrote to all the city councilors after I attended the Zoom public hearing by DENR on the ECC of this project. I asked them to review, amend or revoke their approval of this project. 

I talked about my fears of traffic gridlocks in Lanang but more so on the procedural lapse committed by the city council in 2018 when they passed a resolution of no objection to this bridge project. The DENR guidelines stated that the city councils could only issue such resolutions once the ECC is already issued, which happened only in 2020.

I gathered that under the house rules of the city council, any subject matter officially referred to a committee must be disposed of through a final report and hearing in a regular session. This had not happened until now, and it is considered pending until kingdom come, I guess.

A few weeks ago,  Councillor Pilar C. Braga and I passed by the Diversion Road before the Maa Junction on our way to Marilog. We were held up in a stretch of less than 200 meters for more than 30  minutes and wondered why. We saw these massive posts for a flyover being constructed so commuters would not have to wait for the traffic lights at the Maa Junction for them to proceed. This seems like a good idea. Off the bat, she commented that where the flyover touches the grounds, it will need widening of the roads there. It occurred to me that this is exactly what will happen if or when the SIDC bridge is constructed in Lanang.

I live in Nova Tierra Village , Lanang, Brgy. V. Hizon. This is a bridge too near.

The Samal-Davao City Bridge, Yes. But not in Lanang, Please. 


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