EDSA or Epifanio delos Santos Ave., is that stretch of highway that links together six cities of Metro Manila where history was made more than 30 years ago that ushered in the Philippines’ rebirth from the dictatorship of the Marcos years. Today EDSA is the epicenter of the traffic mess in the country making us the 4thworst in terms of road congestion in the world. Even in these pandemic times, more than 100,000 vehicles transit the road everyday which has gained us international notoriety that caught the eye of Hollywood actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. According to a news report, “Last December, Joseph Gordon-Levitt asked people in the Philippines to describe the heavy traffic flow along EDSA. Three months later, the American actor and digital creator unveiled a three-lined poem that gives the world an idea of what it’s like to pass through the country’s busiest thoroughfare. Here’s his poetic lines which he posted on social media with a graphic showing dozens of vehicles with glowing red tail lights, trying to weave through a portion of EDSA, bumper to bumper.”
Half of my life,
It’s more tiring than
A sea of
We cannot but agree with the actor that this fabled roadway is in a bad state. But then rather than dwell on the gloom, there is some good news that may in due time lessen the congestion that has made my EDSA car ride from Quezon City to Makati take 3 hours and even more when you have that regular occurrence of a stalled vehicle or a fender-bender alongside. In recognition of last week’s Earth Day 2021 commemoration, “A movement of private sector leaders and environment advocates called for the transformation of the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Edsa), the main Metro Manila traffic corridor, into an iconic green avenue as a response to the climate crisis. In their manifesto, the movement said traffic congestion and air pollution are major contributors of toxic emissions and greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases, the convenors noted, “have dire consequences in terms of climate change, human health deterioration, restricted people mobility, impaired social interaction and economic costs.”
What is needed according to them is for “government officials, business owners and other stakeholders to push for a “green” Edsa, the movement hopes to restore lost sidewalk space in Edsa, reduce car lanes and replace them with efficient mass transit. They said reclaimed space in the major thoroughfare could be used to widen sidewalks and plant trees on both sides of the avenue. The movement’s vision of a green Edsa includes “a calmer, tree-lined and landscaped thoroughfare, with wide sidewalks conducive to walking and promenading.” Their rallying cry could well be timely considering that relevant infrastructure developments here in Metro Manila would eventually lessen the number of vehicles using EDSA as new and better alternatives are available especially for car owners.
One example is San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) Skyway Stage 3 project which has formally opened the Nagtahan northbound and southbound exit ramps allowing motorists to access Sta. Mesa and the city of Manila directly. Motorists coming from Quezon City, Caloocan and Bulacan and farther north going to Manila and who use EDSA need not do so anymore. According to SMC President Ramon Ang, “motorists can expect to further cut their travel time to Manila, even as traffic congestion at major thoroughfares (such as EDSA) commonly used to access Sta. Mesa and other nearby areas are seen to further ease”. For his part, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Sec. Mark Villar said, “We want more motorists to reap the benefits of additional interchanges in between Buendia and NLEX. The timely opening of all interchanges will also further reduce traffic along major NCR roads, most specifically Edsa, Quezon Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Nagtahan, and Quirino Avenue”.
And for those of you who agonized on the drive from the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and the Ortigas business district, take heart for relief is also at hand as last month, the DPWH announced that the BGC-Ortigas Link Bridge will be partially opened to traffic in May of this year. The four-lane bridge will not only connect BGC in Taguig with the Ortigas business districts in Pasig, but it will also serve as an alternative route for motorists that frequent EDSA and C-5. “I’m happy to announce that soon, we can open the bridge for our motorists once the up and down ramps near Kalayaan Avenue are fully completed,” said Sec. Villar. Once complete, travel time between Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas Center will be cut from 1 hour to just 12 minutes. Moreover, it will help reduce the volume of traffic in both EDSA and C-5.
So, here’s a toast to Don Pañong, noted academician and historian and head of the Philippine Library and Museum in 1925 whose name should not be associated with ignominy because of a congested highway. He should remembered as the illustrious figure in the transformation of EDSA, the main Metro Manila traffic corridor, into an iconic green avenue.