If everything goes according to plan, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will start implementing this year the new P4.4-billion, 2.6-kilometer Tagbilaran City-Panglao island connector bridge, which is projected to ease traffic congestion once the Panglao airport operates in August.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Visayas has approved the inclusion of the new Tagbilaran City offshore bridge connector to Panglao island in the RD Investment Plan, endorsed it to National Economic Development Authority’s Investment Coordination Committee (NEDA ICC) and endorsed the same project to the public works department for funding and implementation.
The RDC has formalized these moves through RDC Resolutions No. 20 (s. 2018), RDC Resolution No. 21 (s. 2018), and RDC Resolution No. 22 (s. 2018), in the same order, reports RDC private sector representative and Infrastructure Development Committee (IDC) private sector chair Glenn Soco.
It may be recalled that as early as 2015, Bohol Provincial Development Council (PDC) had endorsed to both the RDC and the DPWH the conduct of a feasibility project for the construction of the new bridge, which would be the third bridge that connects Panglao island to Tagbilaran City.
Bohol local officials have foreseen the need to improve the transport connection between the city and Panglao anticipating the increased volume of traffic once Panglao Airport gets running.
Last 7 February 2018, DPWH 7 submitted to the RDC Secretariat a copy of the feasibility study and Advanced Engineering Designs of the new bridge, according to the RDC.
In the DPWH feasibility study, considered were three possible alignments based on the distance from the existing two bridges, the right of way acquisition, the cost of construction and the possible environmental impacts.
From there, the Provincial Government chose the alignment consistent with the Bohol Tourism Master Plan and Spatial Development Framework, the RDC relayed.
The option include a roundabout to facilitate vehicular movement in the Tagbilaran City side, connecting to Dauis on the Panglao side would entail a 2.6 kilometers in length and costs P4.4 billion, which the DPWH implements starting 2018 to 2020.
According to DPWH 7, the project had a P500 million allocation in the 2018 budget, and another P 500 million was proposed to be inserted in the 2019 budget.
As the project gets past the P2.5 billion threshold set by the NEDA ICC, it has to get past the approval of the NEDA Board, RDC sources revealed.
Only those projects with the NEDA Board approval gets to secure a Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA) from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the same sources explained.
An MYOA ensures that funding requirements of the project in the succeeding years would be included in the national government’s budget program.
For the third bridge, the RDC maintains that the project would contribute in attaining the objectives of the RDP to accelerate infrastructure development in the region, which would also spread out in no time at all.
For once the RDC said the project supports the strategies to plan and implement a transport network that serves the needs of the people and promotes greater access to markets, production areas and vital industries; enhance intra and inter-island connectivity; and mitigate road congestion, in Tagbilaran and nearby areas.
As for the RDC’s Infrastructure Development, the proposed third bridge has met the criteria on relevance, implementation feasibility, clear fund source, and social and environmental acceptability, Soco said.
As to its environmental impact, the DPWH feasibility study already included an Environmental Impact and Management Plan, which indicate the possible environmental impacts of the project and corresponding preventive and mitigating measures, which the RDC also sees as attainable.