By Joseph B.A. Marzan
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Region 6 will only change part of the design of the P560-million Aganan Flyover in Pavia, Iloilo.
Pavia town councilor Jose Maria Trimañez, who chairs the transportation committee, confirmed to Daily Guardian on Air on Friday that DPWH is considering replacing some of the flyover’s girders from concrete to steel.
Girders are the horizontal part of a bridge or flyover that supports the deck or carriageway.
The design change will only affect the portion of the flyover at the intersection of Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue and Gorriceta Avenue, or more commonly known as the Aganan intersection.
Trimañez said DPWH-6 Assistant Regional Director Jose Al Fruto made the pronouncement during their meeting on Jan 23, 2023.
The meeting centered on the ongoing construction issues of the ₱680-million Ungka Flyover, which straddles the town and Iloilo City, and the Aganan Flyover.
Trimañez shared his understanding that the so-called “Great Wall of Aganan,” which has been the subject of social media memes criticizing the delayed flyover, was removed recently as part of the design changes.
“The term used [by the DPWH-6] during the meeting was that they were ‘considering’ the replacement, but in my understanding, the ‘Great Wall of Aganan’ which was supposed to be the support for the concrete girders, was removed because they would replace it with steel girders,” Trimañez explained.
He also denied that the entire Aganan flyover will end up like the two flyovers at the intersection of Benigno Aquino Sr. Avenue-Infante Street and General Luna Street in Iloilo City, which used steel girders.
But Trimañez lamented the cost of the changes, and the subsequent delays and traffic interruptions that it will cause.
“There are many questions [as to] why they were changing from the original design, [because] it meant that the design was defective. When [Fruto] appeared in the session, we appreciated that they expressed that the [DPWH-6] has humbled down because of their realizations,” he said.
“The funds already wasted [for the Aganan flyover] was regrettable. The money to be set or allocated for the steel girders, which are more expensive, if [the flyover] was designed and planned right, we could’ve saved a lot of money, which could’ve been used to build new schools and classrooms, or given as ayuda (aid) to farmers who need help right now,” he added.
As to the Ungka Flyover, he said Fruto assured that it was still safe to pass underneath the structure despite the continued sinking of its piers or foundations, which was already forewarned to cause destruction of the concrete girders.
“[The DPWH-6] said that they observed minimal sinking [of the piers], but we were assured that it would not fall, contrary to our fears. That was why we kept on asking, again and again, as to the safety,” he said.
Fruto also explained to the Pavia town council that the shoring or temporary supports for the three sinking piers were removed due to the jet grouting works being completed by project contractor International Builders Corp.
Jet grouting refers to injecting cement-like material underneath the sinking piers to stop the movement.
The removal of the shoring will also allow DPWH-6 to monitor if the piers are still sinking.
Trimañez said he was not in favor of reopening the flyover to light vehicles during Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival until the DPWH has released the results of the third-party probe on the Ungka flyover.
Traffic load tests are still being conducted by the DPWH-6 to monitor the movements of the piers.
“We were assured by [Fruto] that as soon as they’ll have the results, they will update us in the Sangguniang Bayan so we can also update our residents,” he stated.
These two flyovers were slated to be completed and opened to the public in 2022 and were once touted to cut travel time from the city to the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan town by 20 minutes.
The Aganan flyover was scheduled to be completed in July 2022 according to the project’s information board.
The delay has become one of the subjects of House Resolution No. 721 filed last Jan 26, 2023, which sought a congressional inquiry on the two controversy-laden structures which are considered legacy projects of former senator Franklin Drilon.
The closure of the Ungka flyover because of the sinking piers, which Daily Guardian first reported in September 2022, is causing daily traffic jams in the area, much to the chagrin of motorists and commuters.