Amid Mayon Volcano Eruption: Lidong Bridge nears swift completion
By Manuel T. Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY --- As the ongoing eruption of Mayon Volcano continues to pose threats to the two flood-prone barangays located within the 6-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), a sense of relief washes over the residents with the nearing completion of the 30-meter-long four-lane Lidong Bridge. This bridge, which had been overlooked for decades by the public works and highways departments, has finally garnered attention.
Linking the flood-prone neighboring Barangays Padang in Legazpi City (2nd District) and Lidong in Sto. Domingo town (1st District), the 7-kilometer highway route has frequently been rendered impassable for days, disrupting transportation to the first district and the island province of Catanduanes. The first district also serves as an alternative route to Camarines Sur en route to Metro Manila.
Separated by a national road, the lower coastal areas of these two barangays suffered severely during Typhoon Reming in November 2007, resulting in the tragic loss of 200 lives in the lower Barangay Padang alone due to a lahar flow.
Barangay Lidong’s coastal region houses factories, public schools, a subdivision, and numerous families that bear the brunt of flooding during Mayon eruptions and heavy rainfall. Residents have been voicing their complaints for decades, seeking improvements to the cramped Lidong Spillway, which was initially constructed with only three small culverts at a size of four-by-four.
Finally, the 7-kilometer flood-prone route is finding protection through the ongoing construction of the four-lane Lidong Bridge and the planned expansion of the nearby Padang Bridge to four lanes, as noted by DPWH regional director Virgilio Eduarte. The new Lidong Bridge marks the sole four-lane bridge along the Lidong-Padang-Arimbay route. Arimbay and Padang are located on the Legazpi side.
The Lidong Bridge project stands at nearly 80 percent completion, Eduarte reported early last week.
With its finish line in sight, the P60 million Lidong Bridge could become accessible sooner than its scheduled December completion, revealed Albay 1st District Engineer Rainero Zerda. He added that the 30-meter bridge is well-equipped to handle significant floods during typhoons, heavy rainfall, and Mayon eruptions.
Phivolcs officials have indicated that Mayon Volcano continues its effusive eruptions for over two months now, remaining at alert level 3. However, the volcanic debris ejected has not breached the 6-kilometer PDZ. Phivolcs maintains a close watch on Mayon’s activity, hoping it won’t escalate beyond the present alert level, which would extend the PDZ to 8 kilometers and necessitate evacuations. As of now, around 10,000 families affected by the 6-Km PDZ are still residing in evacuation centers.
The residents of Lower Lidong vividly recall their last encounter with flooding during the 2020 Typhoon Rolly. The national road was submerged by volcanic debris, amplifying the dire situation for hundreds of families due to the constricted spillway, which impeded the flow of debris and floodwaters.
“One old resident” expressed gratitude that the DPWH has finally addressed their concerns through the Lidong Bridge’s construction.
According to Zerda, the P60 million Lidong Bridge contract encompasses approaches of 106 meters on the Legazpi side and 92 meters on the Sto. Domingo side. These elevated approaches are designed to accommodate surging floodwaters. Director Eduarte, along with Congressmen Elizalde Co (Ako Bicol Party-list) and Edcel Lagman, closely oversee the progress of the Lidong Bridge amid the ongoing Mayon eruption.
In a related development, Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) has issued orders to expedite the delayed completion of the 30-meter Padang Bridge expansion to four lanes. Salceda recalled the heavy casualties suffered by Barangay Padang, with over 200 deaths during Typhoon Reming in 2007. The typhoon resulted in nearly 2000 casualties across Albay due to massive lahar flow.
Recall that in early 2010, local DPWH officials proposed constructing a viaduct spanning the 7-kilometer Arimbay-Padang-Lidong route. However, this costly proposal was temporarily shelved in favor of building the two-lane Arimbay and Padang bridges.
Records indicate that the Lidong Bridge’s completion was initially set for a 10-month period from February 16, 2023, to December 16, 2023. Lidong Bridge project engineer Wilfredo Rodriguez noted that actual work began a month later on March 23. Nevertheless, he expressed pride in the project’s progress, stating that it was almost 76 percent complete by mid-August.