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TO LINK BICOL, LEYTE TO MINDANAO: Sorsogon-Samar-Leyte-Surigao bridges mulled

By Sarwell Q. Meniano TACLOBAN CITY --- The government needs at least P193.58B to build cable-stayed long span bridges that will link Leyte Island to Mindanao and Samar Island to Luzon. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) came up with project cost as they seek endorsement of the five-year mega projects from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the kick-off of the feasibility study. The study will be done by Chinese experts through funding grants from Chinese government, said Ernesto Octaviano, chief of NEDA regional office project development investment programming and budgeting division. “After the approval of technical assistance, the study will run for six months and hopefully construction will start early next year,” Octaviano said The official is optimistic that budget for the study will be included in the availment of Chinese government financing in accordance with the 2016 Philippine-China Development Framework of Cooperation. Of the P193.58B budget, P101.35B is intended for Leyte-Surigao Link Bridge Project and P92.23B for Luzon (Sorsogon)-Samar Bridge Project. The two projects along with Panay-Negros-Guimaras Link Bridge are listed as priority under the “Nationwide Island Provinces Link Bridges for Sustained Economic Growth and Development.” The Leyte-Surigao project involves the construction of cable-stayed bridges with a length of 23 kilometers connecting San Ricardo, Southern Leyte and Lipata in Surigao City, crossing the Surigao Strait. The Sorsogon-Samar project has a combined length of 25.4 kilometers. It consists of three long span bridges – Allen to San Antonio in Northern Samar (4.9 kilometers), San Antonio to Capul in Northern Samar (8.5 kilometers), and Capul, Northern Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon (12 kilometers). Both projects are four-lane cable-stayed bridges, a permanent solution to the perennial problem of stranding during weather disturbances and port congestion during peak season. A cable-stayed bridge has one or more towers, from which cables support the bridge deck. Distinctive features are the cables, which run directly from the tower to the deck, normally forming a fan-like pattern or a series of parallel lines. The Regional Development Council executive committee approved the resolution by referendum this week. The project is expected to bring more economic opportunities between the country’s three island groups – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. For decades, roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ferries cross the San Bernardino Strait, transporting passengers and vehicles to and from Allen Port and Matnog Port in Sorsogon. With a distance 28 kilometers, the average travel time is one hour and 30 minutes. In the southern part of Leyte Island, RoRo ships have been transporting passengers and vehicles to and from Benit Port in San Ricardo town and Lipata Port in Surigao City, crossing Surigao Strait. The distance between the two ports is 23 kilometers. Buses, cars and trucks from various provinces of Mindanao bound for Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon pass through Allen and San Ricardo ports to get to Luzon.

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