COVER STORY

9 urban planners and architects illustrate their ideal EDSA

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Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The gridlock traffic in EDSA has been an age-old problem that never seems to get resolved. It has also been reported that Metro Manila traffic costs the Philippine economy ₱3.5B a day, which displays the urgent need to solve this issue.

The MMDA has devised ways to address traffic congestion, such as the driver-only vehicle ban, the prohibition of provincial buses in EDSA during rush hour, and the implementation of the ‘carpool lane.’ And yet, until now, Filipinos still find themselves stuck on the same road for hours on end. On top of this, there’s also the lack of infrastructure that could provide the majority of Filipinos a decent commuting experience.

In an attempt to find solutions to this problem, CNN Philippines Life approached urban planners, urban planning organizations, and architects to illustrate and explain what EDSA should look like — not only to ease traffic congestion but also to show Filipinos the kind of infrastructure that we deserve.

Byron Jeff Datinguinoo of Siyudad PH

“A functional transit and people corridor: Assuming Metro Manila has cut car usage and most of the population has shifted their mode to public transport, car lanes should be reduced, cycle lanes to be encouraged and a second layer of dedicated public transport like Bus Rapid Transit to add more capacity.

Stations, such as Guadalupe, will be upgraded to provide more crossings and shaded walkways connected to bus, jeepney, ferry, to encourage walking and intermodal transport — all in the setting of a well-maintained riverfront park for the people. Developments around it will prioritize mixed use development and public housing instead of big malls and condominiums, and of course, get rid of the billboards.”

For inquiries, contact Siyudad PH on Facebook.

Paulo Alcazaren and associates

“Here's our design for a stretch of EDSA we feel needs the most improvement. This is an actual project funded by the ADB and is planned to be implemented by the DOTr. It is called the Ortigas Greenways Project. The MRT at Ortigas Center currently provides an extremely narrow sidewalk at the ground level making it difficult for commuters to walk into the Ortigas CBD.

This project solves that by connecting the MRT via a green elevated walkway that leads to either the Robinson's corner Ortigas Ave or to Megamall and turns left into the interior of the Ortigas CBD.

The studies we made for ADB/DOTr show that this elevated connection can save pedestrians between 10 to 20 minutes (one way) from arrival at Ortigas MRT to get to their offices in the Ortigas CBD. Once built, this can mean from 20 to 40 minutes/day saved for everyone. We have already proven that a combination of elevated walkways and improved sidewalks enhance connectivity in the rest of the Ortigas CBD.

The pedestrian system within the CBD was commissioned by the Pasig City government in collaboration with the local business owner's association Ortigas Commercial Association Inc. We even built an elevated plaza. The Ortigas Greenways Project is planned to be implemented in the coming year. These designs and approaches to pedestrian connectivity have been proven to work, based on our successes in the Makati CBD pedestrian system and in the Iloilo Esplanade.”

For inquiries, visit their website.

Jose Edgardo A. Gomez, Jr., DPA, EnP and Arch. Stephanie Guilles

“We opted for widening the bodies of the present MRT to increase capacities, rather than adding another storey with more tracks, to allow more open air and sunlight. I did think of the subway beneath, but strictly speaking, it is no longer part of EDSA, and would be too far below the level of the Pasig river to draw.

The Double-deck BRT is on both sides of EDSA, again to improve carrying capacity. Sidewalks are wider, clearer, with bike lanes and indigenous native trees all throughout, as well as anchoring monuments at strategic places in EDSA. Billboards and other visual clutter have been cleared out.”

For inquiries, contact Dr. Jed Gomez through jagomez@up.edu.ph or jedgomez101@yahoo.com.

Ross Pabustan

“As a proposal, I believe that an ideal EDSA, should focus on making better mass transportation, rather than road widening and [more] automobile [infrastructure]. In my illustration, I provided 4 lanes of railway, which should connect not just from north EDSA to Pasay but also should network to other cities in Metro Manila which makes EDSA an important thoroughfare.

As the urban population and pollution due to the emission of transport vehicles increases, I believe that EDSA as a major road should be maximized as an urban green corridor where pedestrian mobility is maximize by having green open spaces where people could walk and bicycle. It also allows urban dwellers to be close to the natural environment and can help improve lifestyle and well-being.

Having a green corridor will also help the urban environment in terms of pollution, as plants provide clean oxygen and some plants have a capability to absorb pollution.

This proposed illustration of an IDEAL EDSA aims to not only provide new traffic solutions, but to also connect people and environment. And by then, create an ecological equilibrium, a balance of development and natural environment.”

For inquiries, contact Ross Pabustan at pabustan.rc@gmail.com.

Palafox associates

“Palafox envisions EDSA to be well-connected, accessible, walkable, bikeable, safer, cleaner, and healthier. As such, we want to shift away from the car-oriented system and introduce a more balanced integration of pedestrian and vehicular traffic with adequate green spaces. In our illustration, we follow the ‘one-third principle’ which allocates 1/3 of the road to pedestrians, 1/3 for vehicles, and 1/3 for landscaping.

Sidewalks should be safe and unobstructed, with pedestrian crossings for every 800 meters. Bike lanes should be continuous as well. In line with the vision to make EDSA healthier and aesthetically vibrant, we added green infrastructure like linear parks and pocket parks — which add to the ‘lungs of the city’ that can lessen the impact of heat and urban pollution.

To address the perennial traffic congestion, we plan to increase mobility and encourage less use of cars by proposing more efficient modes of transport like the subway and MRT. The road transport corridor we are proposing will accommodate bus tram lanes, provincial bus lanes, vehicular lanes, bike lanes, pedestrian pathways, and planters.

The design also features elevated pedestrian walkways that provide safe passage for pedestrians from moving vehicles below. This is enhanced with landscaping, bike lanes, walkalators, air conditioning, commercial kiosks, ample seating, and space for golf cart passage that can transport senior citizens, pregnant women, PWDs, and the like. We ensured universal design is incorporated, so the built environment can be accessible to and used by all people, notwithstanding age or ability.”

For inquiries, visit their website.

Joel Luna, Ariel Raquitico, Miguel Fabia, Jems Javier, Karl Bautista, and Jules Roldan

“The idea behind the submittal of Joel Luna Planning and Design and Archiglobal Manila is to focus less on EDSA as a highway and instead to look at what it could be and asked, 'what if EDSA can be more than just a road?' At the most fundamental level, EDSA should function better. By systematizing bus transport, improving MRT capacity and implementing congestion pricing along EDSA, it is possible to reduce car volume and reclaim one lane per direction and convert these into wider sidewalks, street trees, bike lanes and other facilities that will improve the pedestrian environment of EDSA as well as include elements for place making.

A reimagined EDSA can connect neighborhoods, engage with people better, provide facilities that one would not easily find or get to in the metropolis. EDSA MRT stations provide the highest potential for achieving these due to their locational advantage and foot traffic generation. The space above the stations can serve as people places and community hubs containing terraced gardens, mini-parks, recreation spaces, transit lounges, places for public art and community events, community services (clinics, day care, community halls) that serve nearby neighborhoods — all of which will be accessible on foot or by transit.”

For inquiries, visit their website.

Always Valdellon

“Public life is essential in urban centers to promote the livability of these places we live/work/recreate in. Public spaces must be designed to sustain public life. However, there is a general absence of priorities in providing livable public spaces in urban centers that leave pedestrians with the problem of dealing with urban issues such as traffic congestion, lack of quality pedestrian experience, fragmented urban fabric, degradation of urban environment, poor urban mobility, and lack of recreational opportunities.

Thus, the proposed development of the Ortigas Center Transit Exchange (OCTEX): Public Spaces Regeneration through Pedestrian-Oriented Development of Ortigas Center will feature Shaw Boulevard-Ortigas Elevated Promenade along EDSA that will connect the pedestrians to the existing public transport system, unloading/loading bays, transport terminals, MRT-3 Shaw Boulevard Station, MRT-3 Ortigas Station and the Ortigas Greenway Corridors provided with bikeways, seating areas, toilets, plazas, retail areas, and pocket gardens.

Similarly, the redesign and redevelopment of the existing Eton Cyberpod along Ortigas Avenue as the Ortigas Center Transit Exchange (OCTEX) will connect the pedestrians to the MRT-3 Ortigas Station, the proposed Mega Manila Subway Ortigas North Station, and the proposed East-West Railway or MRT-8 Ortigas Station provided with spaces such as PUV loading and unloading bays, garden plaza, retail areas, pedestrian support facilities, health and wellness center, business outsourcing offices, outdoor gardens, and active leisure center to address the needs for the integrated pedestrian network system and regeneration of public spaces for health and wellness.”

For inquiries, contact Always Valdellon at asvaldellon@up.edu.ph.

The Manila Creative Exchange

“EDSA is impermeable. It is a line that cuts the city with a wall of traffic. Moving north to south, it connects cities along its 12 lane path, but restricts the relationship between its sides at the east and the west.

The UPPER LINK is a series of elevated pathways that imagines stitching the two sides together. By opening new routes across this divide, the UPPER LINK becomes a new network that allow people to get directly to the places they want to go.

The proposed alignments are explorations of potential pathways linking destinations that may be of greatest service to the public. These serve as a starting point for dialogue towards this possibility. There should be an opportunity for the public to suggest the most desired routes.

The UPPER LINK also provides a much needed wayfinding system in Metro Manila that helps commuters navigate routes clearly and efficiently. The wayfinding system, composed of bold colors, signage, and other visual cues contributes to a well defined sense of place, enhancing the experience of an otherwise complex urban environment.

This is a chance to break down the barrier that EDSA has become, and it is a chance for us to reduce our dependence on this notorious highway.”

For inquiries, contact The Manila Creative Exchange through their Facebook or Instagram.

Louwie A. Gan and associates

“Although there are other socio-economic factors and land use planning that should be considered, the main focus here is to create sharing of roads for various modes of transportation such as, in hierarchy, walking, biking, mass transportation with Bus Rapid Transit and finally private cars that support carpooling. In 2013, the total population in Metro Manila was approximately 12 million. There are 2.5 million registered vehicles in Metro Manila and only 520,000 of these vehicles traverses EDSA per day. For this reason, I think it would be justifiable to provide more infrastructure to the 80 percent of the population who may not have cars or just commute to work everyday.

The renderings highlight the importance of the sidewalk as the main transportation option connected to other modes of transportation within 5-minute walking distance (pedestrian shed). These encourage more people to use the sidewalk. The walking experience should be comfortable and safe to people of diverse age and mobility. Second, bicycling infrastructure can cater distances of 2 to 5 kilometers (comfortable distance for bicyclists).

Bicycling more than 5 kilometers up to 10 kilometers should require buildings to have shower facilities and secured storage for bicycles (which is currently not in our building code). Building more mass transit system such as bus rapid transit may meet the demand for MRT backlog and to alleviate the bus commuting experience. To encourage people who own cars to use this system, the government should initiate the improvement of the commuting experience in the MRT and PUVs.”

For inquiries, visit their website.