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DPWH: “P35-M Padang Bridge will finally be completed”

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- The completion of the highly controversial 30-meter Padang Bridge expansion, awarded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to two Legazpi-based contractors, has been significantly delayed.

Despite the project being initiated more than two years ago, strong concerns have arisen due to its prolonged construction period.

Last year, amid mounting noise about the extended delay, there were suggestions of early rescission of the Padang Bridge contract.

In response, the DPWH and the contractor took the unusual step of removing the mandatory billboard at the project site. This move aimed to conceal information related to the project’s completion timeline from the public.

However, there is now a glimmer of hope. An official announcement on the DPWH website indicates that the P35 million bridge expansion will finally be completed.

The bridge will soon be closed to traffic for the installation of the remaining pre-stressed girder, which will complete the four-lane structure. The plan is to open the bridge to traffic within the next 30 days.

The project, which has faced significant delays, will see a temporary closure of the bridge for three hours, from 11 p.m. on March 16 until 2 a.m. the following day. During this time, the remaining girder—previously lying idle at the roadside of the bridge approach for over two years—will be launched.

The Padang Bridge is located approximately 5 kilometers from Legazpi City. The flood-prone Barangay Padang route spans the province’s 1st and 2nd districts. Notably, during the 2008 Typhoon Reming, the barangay’s lower side suffered heavy casualties due to lahar flow, resulting in nearly 2,000 reported deaths province-wide.

Controversy surrounding the project has been fueled by commuters’ complaints about traffic congestion at the project site and the absence of an extra detour route.

Additionally, engineers have raised concerns about the stability of the two pre-stressed girders for the bridge expansion. These girders were built right at the roadsides of the Padang bridge approaches, and some experts believe that their curing period may have been compromised due to vibrations from passing vehicles, especially heavy equipment.

The construction of the Padang Bridge has been a matter of significant interest and concern. Let’s explore the key aspects of this project:

The Padang Bridge project is a joint venture between two construction firms: Jejan Construction, owned by incumbent city councilor Glenn Casulla, and Makapa Construction, owned by Carlos Loria. Interestingly, Carlos Loria has already declared his candidacy for the province’s 2nd congressional district in the upcoming 2025 election.

Despite being a relatively new player, Jejan Construction took charge of the actual bridge construction.

The project encountered delays due to a shortage of both manpower and equipment. These limitations significantly impacted the pace of implementation for the Padang expansion contract.

Makapa Construction’s Commitments: Makapa Construction was juggling multiple contracts with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Notably, the Busay Flyover Bridge along the Maharlika highway in Daraga town, Albay, remained idle for over two years due to unresolved right-of-way issues.

Congressman Joey Sarte Salceda, representing Albay’s 2nd District, raised questions about the controversial delay of the Padang Bridge. He demanded justifications and even suggested cancelling the contract altogether.

DPWH Region 5 director Virgilio Eduarte supported Albay 2nd District Engineer Warren Azotea’s stance. Azotea argued against cancelling the contract with Jejan and Makapa Constructions, emphasizing that such a move would only exacerbate delays and be unfavorable for the government.

The good news is that the Padang Bridge is on track to open fully to traffic within a month. The final girder is scheduled for launching on March 16, marking the completion of this crucial infrastructure project.

In summary, despite the challenges and controversies, efforts are now focused on ensuring the timely completion of the Padang Bridge for the benefit of the community.


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