The best gift of Christmas, some believe, was the opening of Skyway 3.
Although traffic has been light under the general community quarantine, experiencing travel from Quezon City to Makati in 10 minutes has been nothing short of miraculous.
The new expressway, designed to cut travel time between South Luzon Expressway and North Luzon Expressway to only 30 minutes, has been the “light at the end of the tunnel” (or should we borrow the term ‘hellscape’) for motorists.
In fact, after just a few weeks of traversing portions of Skyway 3, many missed it during the one day it closed to traffic for its official opening ceremony yesterday.
Then again, the prospect of being able to use all of Skyway Stage 3’s seven lanes after the opening ceremony was considered a sweet reward.
Imagine a smooth flow on “eight strategically-located interchanges: Buendia, President Quirino Avenue, Plaza Dilao and Nagtahan, Aurora Boulevard, E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon Avenue, Sgt. Rivera and Balintawak.”
Considering the usual congestion below, many cannot wait to breeze through any of the 14 tollways, no matter if rates are still unpublished to date. The new expressway remains toll-free until 29 January.
It made skyway dreams and visions of a traffic-free metropolis seem possible.
The Department of Public Works and Highways had been determined to decongest Edsa since 2016, when the “Build, Build, Build” program was launched.
Among the Duterte administration priorities, infrastructure development will continue through this year, with key projects like Skyway 3 leading the way to the future.
Ambitious from the get-go, the government’s plans to connect the northern and southern parts of the metropolis through elevated expressways and more bridges seemed to be another pipe dream.
Skyway 3, for one, was delayed for two years. The original target completion of January 2018 was moved — blocked by the slow delivery of right of way (RoW).
The public-private partnership, launched in 2014, costs a total of P37.43 billion. The RoW dilemma looked as if it could derail plans for some time.
But contractor Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp., a San Miguel Corp.-backed company, also had other bumps to hurdle along the way. A report in a business paper says, “San Miguel filed a criminal complaint for qualified theft against Indonesian businessman Shadik Wahono, a partner in the Citra Group.”
Last year, an accident also made headlines when a crane being positioned fell on a steel girder and left one dead and a number injured.
Holes and humps — including the major roadblock that stopped the Duterte administration’s centerpiece program in its tracks, the coronavirus pandemic — cannot stop the wheels from turning, fortunately.
This year, starting with the formal opening of Skyway 3, the government’s infrastructure program will continue to roll forward.
We hope to see more “formal openings,” the railway projects and more airports, and just a series of stops and starts.
The pandemic may have halted the world, but if we do things right, progress will continue and help us all survive.
We still have a long way to go.