Quezon City gov't allows resumption of MRT-7 station construction

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The local government has allowed San Miguel Corporation to resume building the above-ground portion of an MRT-7 station at the Quezon Memorial Circle as authorities agreed on a smaller layout.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 28) — The Quezon City government has allowed private contractors to resume building a train station at the Quezon Memorial Circle, which was earlier stopped due to issues on space and layout.

Mayor Joy Belmonte announced Friday that she has taken back the cease and desist order covering the above-ground construction of the train station of the Metro Rail Transit line 7 (MRT-7) along Elliptical Road.

The local government halted that portion of the project on February 18 after environmentalists and historians said the proposed design and layout would "affect the landmark's identity as a national heritage park."

Belmonte questioned why the contractor exceeded the original 2,457 square-meter (sq.m.) floor area above ground — which was not the main train concourse — to cover 10, 791 sq.m. under a new design plan submitted to the city. Now, she said contractor San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has agreed to a much smaller design which would be a drastic reduction to just 426 sq.m. above ground that will serve as a utility room.

The height of the structure has also been slashed to just six meters from 12 meters previously, which would preserve the view of the Quezon City monument.

READ: Courts allow construction of MRT-7 depot

"Mapapanatili natin ang view ng pylon. Wala na pong obstructions ngayon sa libingan ni Pangulong Manuel Luis Quezon. Bukod diyan, malaki ang open space para sa mamamayan ng lungsod Quezon dahil walang mall,” Belmonte said in a statement.

[Translation: The view of the pylon will be preserved. There wouldn't be any obstructions for the tomb of former President Manuel Luis Quezon. There will also be a bigger space left for residents as there won't be a mall built there.]

City officials met with SMC, its partner EEI Corporation, representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), as well as heritage advocates, urban planners, environmentalist groups, and even members of the Avencena-Quezon family on Friday as the private firms presented revised designs.

Once completed, the MRT-7 would link North Avenue to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue through 14 stations. Authorities expect the ₱70.8-billion train line to serve 850,000 passengers, while cutting travel time to just 35 minutes end-to-end.

DOTr wanted to begin partial train services by 2021, but this target could be at risk with changes in the station's design. Undersecretary Timothy John Batan said the station's layout had to be expanded to accommodate more passengers expected to ride the trains, from an estimate of 300,000 back in 2008 when the project was first proposed.

The MRT-7 is one of the flagship infrastructure projects under the "Build, Build, Build" program.