LINKING TWO ISLANDS. This Google Map shows Allen, Northern Samar and Matnog, Sorsogon separated by San Bernardino Strait. The national government intends to build a long-span bridge or a tunnel to link the two islands.
TACLOBAN CITY — The central government will need over PHP300 billion to build a long span bridge linking Allen, Northern Samar and Matnog, Sorsogon, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said on Tuesday, citing the newly-completed feasibility study.
The study has identified two feasible options to construct Sorsogon-Samar Link Bridge. The first is the construction of a 24-kilometer crossing bridge with an estimated cost of PHP284 billion.
It consists of three long-span bridges – Allen to San Antonio in Northern Samar, San Antonio to Capul in Northern Samar, and Capul, Northern Samar to Matnog, Sorsogon. The construction timetable is six years.
Another alternative is to build a PHP257 billion deep tunnel, which requires nine years to complete based on the document obtained by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) from NEDA regional office here.
Both options also need improvement of ferries on both sides with an estimated budget of PHP25.3 billion to PHP71.6 billion.
Given the huge funding requirement and six to nine years of the construction period, the project will not be realized under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, said Ernesto Octaviano, head of the NEDA Eastern Visayas project development, investment programming, and budgeting division.
“The fund requirement is more than half the annual budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) nationwide. It is impossible that this will be prioritized in the remaining years of the Duterte administration,” Octaviano said.
In 2018, the DPWH has contracted Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd. (Arup) to help prepare feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs for this new inter-island bridge. The firm has a 40-year experience in mega transport projects.
The bridge is seen as a permanent solution to the perennial problem of stranding during weather disturbances and port congestion during peak season.
For decades, roll-on roll-off (RoRo) ferries cross the San Bernardino Strait, carrying passengers and vehicles to and from Allen Port and Matnog Port in Sorsogon. With a distance of 28 kilometers between two seaports, the average travel time is one hour and 30 minutes.
“With the completion of the feasibility study, we hope that future administrations will pursue this project since this will not just connect Samar to Luzon, but establish a better link between other parts of Visayas and Mindanao to the north,” Octaviano added.
The long-span bridge and seven other mega infrastructure projects were listed as a priority in the Infrastructure Preparation and Innovation Facility supported by the Asian Development Bank through a USD100-million loan.
Other projects included as a priority in the study are the North Eastern Luzon Expressway, Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Link, Samal Island-Davao City Connector Bridge, Laguna Lakeshore Road Network, Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge, and Negros-Cebu Link Bridge. (PNA)
Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency