One-year wait for flyover probe

Images of the current situation of the P680-million Ungka flyover have been spreading on social media recently, raising more concerns from the public who are affected by the daily traffic jams following its closure.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

It might take a year and two months before a group of experts commissioned by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) completes the investigation on the P680-million Ungka flyover between Iloilo City and Pavia, Iloilo.

Engr. Ormel Santos, DPWH construction division head, said the probers are set to begin their investigation on the sinking piers or foundations of the flyover anytime this month.

Santos, who was also designated as project engineer of the flyover’s Phase 3 (superstructure phase), said DPWH Sec. Manuel Bonoan commissioned the team being the experts in flyovers and other similar projects.

“They are our consultants who also investigate other flyover projects in the country. They are considered the topnotch experts and mentors of our top DPWH officials,” he added.

Santos said the equipment that the team will use is already in Iloilo and “we’re just waiting for the personnel.”

The agency also had to thresh out some administrative matters before the investigation begins to hasten the process and resolve the problem.

The mishap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on New Year’s Day, which affected regional airports, also snagged the arrival of the experts.

Santos said the experts will conduct soil analysis on the flyover’s piers or foundations to find out if these were buried and standing on stable strata.

The test will involve boring holes around the foundations and extracting core samples to determine the soft layers and hard pan underneath the flyover.

When asked how long the investigation will last, Santos said the experts will drill 28 holes around the flyover site and it will take at least two weeks to complete per hole. In sum, it would take 14 months to finish the coring analyses and tests for all 28 holes.

But Santos said he hopes that the investigators can come up with conclusive results even if they don’t finish all 28 test sites to hasten the resolution of the sinking piers.

MORE PROBLEMS?

But several sources outside DPWH who are familiar with the project said the problem of the Ungka flyover is not just Piers 4, 5, and 6 but certain parts as well.

A source told Daily Guardian that “explosions” were heard in piers 2 and 3, possibly due to failures or snapping of the steel cables that serve as tendons of the flyover girders.

The cables provide flexibility and stability to the girders which support the carriageway of the flyover.

Other sources said that the 13 remaining piers of the flyover are also being monitored following the sinking of piers 4, 5, and 6.

Photos of yawning gaps in the superstructure of the flyover also made rounds on social media in the past weeks.

But Engr. Santos said that there have been no movements in the three piers since Dec 29, 2022, weeks after contractor International Builders Corp. initiated jet grouting on the three foundations.

Jet grouting aims to stabilize the soil underneath by injecting cementitious material into the ground.

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