Plaza Rizal, Panglao Airport, and Traffic Gridlock

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Plaza Rizal, Panglao Airport, and Traffic Gridlock

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Almost everybody is anticipating the transfer of the airport to the Island of Panglao.  However, almost everybody also do not know that if and when the airport will be functional, there will be a traffic gridlock at Plaza Rizal in Tagbilaran, particularly at the corner of J.A. Clarin St. and CPG Avenue in front of the Phil. National Bank (PNB) building.

At present this particular street intersection has the heaviest traffic load during peak hours on early morning, noon, and late afternoon.

Spanish Town Plan

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The typical Spanish town plan was a plaza (Bis: sawang) and at one side of the plaza will be the church and convent and at the opposite side facing the church will be the Tribunal or municipal building and the jail.  The original town plan of Tagbilaran is a typical Spanish town plan.

There is the Plaza Rizal (Formerly: Plaza Principe).  On one side are the St. Joseph Cathedral and the convent.  On the opposite side of the plaza is the Provincial Capitol building and the jail (before it was transferred).  In fact if you will observe carefully the main door of the church is aligned with the main door of the Capitol Building.

The purpose of the arrangement was to enable the Spanish religious personnel and the military/civilian personnel to spy on each other and can report to higher authorities the anomalies done by the other group.

Road Network

Since the authorities were located at the town plaza, all road networks were designed to converge on the plaza.

The system was very convenient for the authorities because anyone who travels will by necessity pass through the plaza and can be checked and verified.  With only few soldiers available, it was an efficient procedure.

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In 1916 Municipal President Celestino Gallares created the Municipal Road Network of Tagbilaran.  It was a concentric road network traversed by main roads and look like a “spider web”.  The present day Tamblot St. towards the LTO Office and ending at the highway at the 1st District Poblacion was the “circumferential road”.

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When the cadastral survey of Tagbilaran was conducted in 1925-1928, the Gallares Plan was followed and the road network of Tagbilaran became permanent.

Since Tagbilaran was and is the capital of the province, the highway network also converges at Plaza Rizal.  In fact the zero (0) kilometer post is placed in front of the Capitol Building as the starting point of all distance measurement of the roads in Bohol.

Traffic Situation

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There are now so many motor vehicles in Bohol and Tagbilaran City.  All vehicles from the different towns that will come to Tagbilaran or pass through Tagbilaran will be forced to pass Plaza Rizal because the road networks converged there.

All motor vehicles coming from Baclayon, Dauis, and Corella will pass through the intersection of J.A. Clarin and CPG Avenue in front of the PNB.  The vehicles coming from the CPG (City Square side) and Gallares Sts. going to the Island City Mall (ICM) will also pass through the PNB intersection.  Only those going to Baclayon and Dauis will not pass the intersection.

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You can just imagine the volume of traffic that will pass through the PNB intersection.

The Problem

J.A. Clarin St. and CPG Avenue are public highways under the control of the 1st Engineering District.  Plaza Rizal is owned and controlled by the Provincial Government.  The flow of traffic is under the control of the City Government of Tagbilaran.

If and when the Panglao Airport will be functional, the traffic to and from Panglao and Dauis will practically double from its present volume.  Since all traffic from Panglao Island will pass through the PNB intersection, the traffic will also double its present situation which is already full capacity.  In other words the traffic will be in a standstill for lack of space to move to.

Since the Plaza Rizal is owned by the Provincial Government, it is common occurrence that they will use the plaza for some traffic generating activities like agricultural fair, celebrations, etc.  These occasions will cause horrendous traffic problems in other parts of Tagbilaran.

The irony of the situation is that the Provincial Government will be praised for conducting a laudable activity at the plaza but the City Government will be blamed for the traffic turmoil because the road network was designed to pass through Plaza Rizal.

Who Will Solve?

This early, before the operation of the Panglao Airport, the government officials will now decide who will solve the ensuing traffic gridlock.

The Highway Engineering is now widening the highways leading to the airport.  It will not lessen the problem but instead enhance the problem by bringing more vehicles to the PNB intersection.

The Provincial Government will always hold activities at the plaza because that is there venue.

The City Government is left holding the bag containing the “blame” of the people.  So it now behooves the City Government how to prepare plans for the coming eventuality.

If you will study the problem properly, it is not an easy problem to solve because the roads are already in place and there is nowhere to go.

The problem needs a radical solution and will be very expensive. Tagbilaran City and the Tagbilaranons will spend a huge amount of money while Panglao and Dauis will have the luxury of earning from the presence of the Panglao Airport.

Be that as it may, Tagbilaran must act now.  The last time I made a warning was the coming of a strong earthquake.  Nobody believed and people did not prepare.  When the earthquake occurred, all we did was regret.  Now another huge problem is coming, shall we be nonchalant to the ominous signs? (By Jes B. Tirol)

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