Underground is the way to go.
That’s where the Metro Manila Subway project will dig up soil and rock in various locations in the metropolis, but the end-result will be seen only six years from now, in 2028.
That is, if Nature does not interrupt well-laid plans in the form of torrential rain that leads to massive flooding. Or even earthquakes that would bring work progress to a complete standstill.
Massive infrastructure projects like this take time to build, according to civil engineers, and we’ll have to be patient and endure massive traffic jams near construction for the next six years, or the end of the second Marcos administration.
Why only now? We’ve long wondered why Metro Manila has managed to live without an efficient subway rail transport system when metropolises in the more developed countries have been able to do so many years past.
Think of New York or Paris, for instance, where residents rely on an extensive subway rail system to get around.
Even Kyiv, the capital of war-torn Ukraine, has a subway system that people now utilize for a different purpose: to hide from missiles and aerial bombardment after Russia’s invasion in February this year.
The P488-billion Metro Manila Subway was the centerpiece of the previous administration’s ambitious infrastructure push called Build, Build, Build, and it was supposed to be partially operating by the end of last year.
However, the first tunnel boring machine was lowered into position only on June 12 this year, thus signaling the start of the actual digging for the subway.
According to the Department of Transportation, at least 25 tunnel boring machines will dig the tunnels for the subway, with partial operability by 2025 and full operations by 2028.
The project has four indicators: procurement, design, right-of-way (ROW) and construction.
On the procurement of contractors, from project management to contractors, civil works, rolling stocks, electro mechanicals including the development of stations, the DOTr estimates that this phase is already 60 percent completed.
The subway will have 17 stations that will connect Valenzuela City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, with daily ridership capacity pegged at between 400,000 and 800,000.
While the original estimated cost was P350 billion, the project’s total cost was raised to P488.48 billion last year.
The line will be the fourth heavy rail line in the country, after LRT Lines 1 and 2, MRT Line 7, and the North-South Commuter Railway, and the first to be mostly underground. It is designed to run trains at 80 kilometers per hour, and to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.
Will the Metro Manila Subway help alleviate the traffic congestion problem in the city? That’s what transportation officials are telling us now. But until we see the trains actually rolling underground, we’ll have to reserve judgment.