With road repairs, Travel to Baguio at least 8 hours

    With road repairs along the MacArthur Highway (Manila North Road) in Tarlac and Pangasinan and along Marcos Highway linking La Union and Benguet, it now takes between eight and 10 hours to reach Baguio City from Metro Manila.

And once tourists reach the summer capital, they have to bear with traffic jams due to more repairs along Naguilian, Kennon and Loakan roads.
The burden of motorists and travelers on their way to Baguio and other northern Luzon provinces starts when they reach Tarlac, where at least three sections of the MacArthur Highway in the towns of Bamban, Capas, Paniqui, Moncada and Gerona and Tarlac City have been undergoing rehabilitation. A bridge in Camiling town is also being repaired, slowing down traffic in that part of Tarlac.

Their woes continue in Pangasinan, where roads are being repaired in Villasis town and Urdaneta City.
Complaints received by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have mounted on the agency’s Facebook account, said Antonio Molano Jr., DPWH director in Central Luzon.

Many of the complaints involved the rerouting from the more than 70-meter Camiling bridge, which is being repaired on a P4.2-million budget. Started in August, the repair is expected to be finished by end of September, Molano said.
As for the road widening project on MacArthur Highway, Molano said their field inspection last week showed that the contractor, Northern Builders, had installed complete traffic signages.

Approved by the DPWH central office, the project was started in late August and would be completed in seven to nine months.
The Paniqui-Moncada section, with road, bridge, stone masonry and canal, is worth P147.169 million. The Tarlac City-Gerona portion, worth P324.792 million, comes with a road and canal. The Bamban-Capas stretch is P231.781 million and includes a road with canal.

For two days last week, buses leaving Baguio for Metro Manila and those bound for the summer capital had to be rerouted to Naguilian Road when the DPWH closed Marcos Highway due to a road cut along Pugo, La Union.
The rerouting lengthened the travel time to between eight and 10 hours. A bus company charged its passengers P50 on top of the regular fare of P440.

Marcos Highway, however, was opened on Saturday. Several sections of this major route to Baguio are undergoing repair, forcing vehicles to take turns in using a single lane.
Constante Sarmiento, maintenance division chief of the DPWH Cordillera, said closure of Marcos Highway resulted in heavier traffic jams in Baguio because the buses were forced to take Naguilian Road, which is also being repaired.

Cesario Rillera, a DPWH Cordillera engineer, said the 450-meter stretch being repaired along Naguilian Road would be finished by November.
Ireneo Gallato, Baguio district engineer, said the department had been installing drainage tunnels and repairing a total of 95 km of national roads in Baguio.

In Pangasinan, DPWH officials blamed the heavy rains for the delay in road repairs in the province.

“Whenever it rains, construction is stopped. But whenever the weather is good, work resumes,” said Emmanuel Diaz, acting DPWH district engineer.
But he said the delay in the concreting of a section of the highway in Urdaneta City was “still tolerable.”

The Urdaneta project covers Barangay (village) Anonas (1.8 km) and Barangay Nancayasan (1.6 km). The project, undertaken by BMK Construction, started on July 18 and will be completed on March 3, 2012.
But Diaz said the DPWH central office has ordered the contractor to complete the project this year.

“We have relayed the instruction to the contractor and they are willing to rush the project, if the weather permits. The project can actually be completed within the year,” he said.

The laying of asphalt on MacArthur Highway in Villasis town has been delayed, forcing the DPWH to issue a notice of termination to its contractor, RoadTech Construction.

Desiree Caluza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon