San Juanico undergoes rehab anew

TACLOBAN CITY — The iconic and historic San Juanico Bridge in Samar is set to undergo another round of rehabilitation to intensify efforts of maintaining its structural integrity amid the alternative bridge plans.

According to the Department of Public Works and Highways, it is now in the process of tightening the high-tension bolts and painting works on the bridge’s structural steel at the cost of P84.7 million.

The San Juanico Bridge — which connects Samar and Leyte islands — was inaugurated on 2 July 1973 after four years of construction that started in 1969. The bridge is a vital link of the Pan-Philippine Highway or the Daang Maharlika which provides the shortest and fastest land and sea route from Luzon to Mindanao.

Almost 50 years since it was opened, San Juanico Bridge is already encountering problems due to aging and high maintenance cost.

The bridge is also one of the biggest tourism attractions in Eastern Visayas as it draws many spectators at night when the lights on the bridge change colors and design due to the recently completed San Juanico Aesthetic Lighting project.

To recall, the Regional Development Council in Eastern Visayas has recommended the construction of an alternate bridge to be put up over Janbatas Channel that will connect Sta. Rita town in Samar to Babatngon, Leyte.

The plan has already undergone a pre-feasibility study where experts concluded the plan to be highly feasible. The RDC has recommended to the DPWH and the Japan International Cooperation Agency to conduct a full-blown feasibility study on the construction of this second bridge dubbed as Janbatas Bridge.

The study is set to be completed next year.

Meantime, regional director Karena Rosa Tiopes of the Department of Tourism in Eastern Visayas said the DPWH assured the province of Samar and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority that the rehabilitation works on the bridge will not affect the installed aesthetic lighting system.

DPWH regional director Allan Borromeo, on the other hand, said that a major repair is necessary to ensure the safety of motorists and other daily road users given that the bridge is nearly 50 years old.

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