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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 23, 2018
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Come to think of it
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia

A flyover review


Some public officials and FB armchair experts have recently called for a structural review of the newly constructed flyover. I don't know how they quantify that unsafe feeling that they get when they supposedly use the flyover but my guess that the number of likes and shares on social media plays a big role in it.

Anyway, they were able to get the Department of Public Works and Highways to check on it and of course, the DPWH experts gave the newly constructed flyover a clean bill of health. All we colonial minded Filipinos need to know about it to feel safe is to be reminded that the flyover is a prefabricated modular steel structure of Matiere SAS under the French government assistance program.

According to its company overview on Bloomberg.com, Matiere SAS designs and constructs earthworks, concrete and metallic structures. It offers prestressed concrete works, such as slab beam and prestressed beams; and reinforced concrete solutions. It also provides metal activities, including beam bridges, box girder bridges, footbridges and modular structures. The company was founded in 1932 and is based in Arpajon-sur-Cère, France.

Assuming that the French guys did their design and fabrication works properly, all the Filipino engineers and local contractor had to do was assemble it correctly. As long as all the steel members are bolted and welded on together correctly, the steel section of the flyover should be ok. A check by a third party expert using specialized equipment would be appreciated for the peace of mind of those who still feel it is unsafe but that is up to the politicos and the DPWH to arrange.

As someone who works in the literal shadow of this flyover, I don't have too many complaints regarding its structural integrity. I don't feel an impending sense of doom when I walk underneath it to buy snacks at the grocery store across the street. It doesn't make any funny, creaking or rumbling noises. When I drive over it, it still feels like a regular flyover.

If there is one thing I don't like with the flyover, it would be the northern junction of the prefabricated steel structure and the concrete ramp, where there metal works and the concrete works do not meet perfectly, creating a noticeable depression that reeks of poor quality work and forces many vehicles to slow down.

The depression where the concrete ramp and the metal flyover meets is something that could've been avoided had the contractor done its simple job better and it is something that definitely needs to be repaired as a back job before the contract can be considered completed. It makes the flyover feel cheap and rushed and gives people reason to worry about their safety.

Aside from the poor perception it gives the flyover, the anomaly is also a big safety issue because when cars that frequent the flyover suddenly slow down to anticipate the depression, their sudden deceleration can surprise the vehicles behind them who don't expect it. Aside from being ugly, it is an accident waiting to happen and it should be repaired ASAP. I reckon that a slapdash repair would involve a bit of asphalt and a few hours closure while a more comprehensive fix will require a little more concrete and a little more time. Either way, it will need to be repaired soon anyway so if any repairs are going to be done, it might as well be now.

Other flyover concerns include the illegal parking along the sides, which thankfully has been monitored and enforced by BTAO personnel in certain areas this week. A signpost is also still right there in the middle of Araneta Street, dangerously waiting for someone to drive into it. Hopefully the people responsible for removing it will be on the case very soon.

It would also make a lot of sense if there was no left, U turns or any crossing within a few hundred meters of the flyover. Left-turning vehicles are still being allowed to do their business right at the foot of the flyover when they could safely U-turn under the flyover just a few meters further ahead and turn right at their intended corner without impeding the flow of traffic or posing a danger to other vehicles.

Also, a piece of advice to my friends going to Sugarland Hotel: If coming from the North, don't take the flyover because stopping right at its foot just to get your Catfish Teriyaki fix is dangerous, bastos and so hoi polloi. Be a dear and take the “ibabaw” instead. If coming from the south, taking pains to make a U-turn underneath the flyover won't kill you. It may even save a life.

The flyover isn't perfect. But it's already there. Those who are afraid of using it have the choice to call for an investigation into its structural integrity or opt not to use it. Those who are using the roads around it have no choice but to be aware of the raison d'etre of a flyover and try their best to use their common sense and common decency to go the extra hundred meters or so in order to avoid impeding the flow of traffic in an area where traffic is supposed to flow better.*

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