Baguio parking, traffic mess

>> Sunday, October 8, 2017

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – Finding a parking space in this summer capital nowadays is like finding a key in a haystack since parking in most roads has been banned by the city government. Parking along Session, the city’s main artery is allowed 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A few meters below at Harrison Road, only a few sites are allowed. One can go to Convention Center but then, even the area is full.
Pay-parking areas like SM, Center Mall and Cathedral grounds are making a killing. Along Upper Mabini, a pay-parking basement has started but there are few takers since management charges P35 on the first hour and P25 for succeeding hours. 
Many vehicles in this so-called tourism resort have been noticed after the fast lane was opened from Manila to Baguio that one could travel in four hours. Now Manila folks can come up here anytime if they want cold weather.
Taxi cabs and public utility jeeps are still kings of the road which they clog. But still, residents and tourists are complaining even if there are many PUVs, it is so hard fining a ride.
These PUVs stop and load or let off passengers at no loading unloading sites like at the foot of the U overpass at the Harrison, Abanao corner near the Camp 7 loading area while the cop directing traffic doesn’t seem to mind.
There are simply too many people and too many vehicles that this city is near its breaking point. Sooner or later if this is not addressed, the traffic situation could go from, bad to worse like in Manila where one has to spend many hours on the road to reach one’s destination. 
Considering lack of parking space and time to park, this jaded newsman now takes the jeep from La Trinidad if he only goes to the Baguio central business district.
The city government is pushing construction of a parking building beside the Ganza Restaurant along Burnham Park but this is being opposed by concerned city folks and environmentalists saying this will just pollute the park, now the remaining wide open space along the CBD.  
According to Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, a priority project of the city government is to build a multi-level parking structure in the vacant lot near the Baguio fire department to accommodate rapidly increasing number of government-owned and private vehicles parked around city hall.
He said there is need to use savings for partial rehabilitation of the city-owned Baguio Convention Center to fund construction of the 8-storey multi-level parking building. This will be used as parking area for government and private vehicles of people transacting business with city hall.
 “We have to use the local funds allocated for repair of the Baguio Convention Center to build the multi-level parking facility near the Baguio fire department because the public works department committed to shoulder the programmed repair and rehabilitation of the city-owned facility,” Domogan told media in a recent weekly press conference.
 He said the city government is trying its best to look for suitable areas where multi-level parking structures could be constructed to decongest the city’s streets.
According to Domogan, the Ganza area and former site of the old city auditorium have been identified to accommodate multi-level parking facilities.
Under the plan for the Ganza parking building, the rooftop will serve as production area for flowers and other plants for the green garden while the rooftop of the old city orchidarium parking structure has been proposed to accommodate business and recreation facilities to make the facility viable for interested proponents.
The city government is earning money for its pay-parking areas in Burnham Park. Never mind if parks are supposed to be beyond the commerce of man. But according to Domogan, pay-parking is actually not a lucrative business. He said there is need to incorporate other income-generating activities in the pay parking structure like through private-public partnership (PPP) to attract investors for the project. 
He said the local government is always open to suggestions on how to address the city’s parking problems and it has considered the same in planning multi-level parking structures either through PPP or local funds.
As city officials try to find solutions to the traffic and parking mess, maybe they could start synchronizing traffic lights at the CBD so there won’t be any need for traffic cops to direct traffic even while the lights are on.
Accidents happen due to this. If a cop directs traffic, the lights should be off. If the lights are on, no cop should direct traffic. Drivers become confused on what to follow as a result particularly at dusk when a cop directs traffic without wearing luminous clothing.
If one hesitates when the green light turns on (having not seen the cop making a sign to stop), one could get a loud expletive from the arrogant lawman.  

How often has this writer nearly had a collision with another vehicle due to this. We’re sure a lot of drivers have experienced this and share the view. A public hearing on the traffic mess is wanting as it seems, recommendations implemented as a result of the previous hearing are not working. Now proprietors and drivers of jeeps plying the Trancoville route want a return of the previous  one even as passengers are complaining of inadequacy of  PUVs to ride.  


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