EDSA traffic to ease by 2020 – Public Works chief

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“The President has a plan to decongest EDSA. It's in place. In fact, it's an advanced stage of implementation at this point. So it's only a matter of time,” Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar says.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 4) — Traffic congestion along the metropolis’ major thoroughfare will ease by 2020, a Cabinet official said Wednesday.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said commuters plying the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) will experience smoother rides as soon as the administration’s decongestion plan is already in place.

“I think next year will really be the banner year in terms of decongestion,” Villar told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“The President has a plan to decongest EDSA. It's in place. In fact, it's an advanced stage of implementation at this point. So it's only a matter of time,” he added.

He said this can be accomplished with the completion of the Skyway Stage 3, which would connect Buendia (Gil Puyat Avenue) in Makati, to San Juan, Manila, Quezon City, and the North Luzon Expressway, as well as the construction of bridges in Pasig.

The daily average of vehicles that pass through EDSA is 380,000 to 400,000-- almost double its capacity set at 200,000.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year vowed that traffic situation in the metro will improve by yearend. The chief executive also promised that the travel time from Cubao to Makati will be reduced to five minutes in December.

Malacañang, however, clarified that the President’s promise was made “on the basis of projects being done on time.” 

Duterte had blamed Congress for what is shaping to be an unfulfilled promise—stressing that lawmakers failed to pass this year’s national budget on time.

READ: No improvement in Metro Manila traffic like he promised? It is Congress' fault, Duterte says

Villar said the five-minute travel time plan—though seemingly unattainable for now—is certain to happen in the near future.

“It's inevitable. It's not possible. As soon as we can,” Villar said of the President’s promise.

A 2018 study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) revealed that the Philippines is losing ₱3.5 billion a day due to traffic congestion in the metropolis.

JICA, in a later study, said the country is also projected to lose ₱5.4 billion to traffic daily by 2035 if no interventions are made.

Emergency powers were earlier sought for the President to ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila. Duterte had given up on the proposal after it failed to hurdle the 17th Congress.