BAGUIO CITY- On November 4, the Cordillera Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) led by Committee Chair and Regional Director of the Cordillera office of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Milagros Rimando visited five sections of the BLISTT (Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) outer circumferential ring which aims to provide drivers alternative routes to avoid the congestion of the urban areas of La Trinidad and Baguio City. Committee members commended the project implementers for having progressed ahead of schedule.
The RPMC inspected five of the eight sections of the outer ring with on-going construction, the Asin-Nangalisan junction-Bayabas-Monglo junction (Section 1, Tuba to Sablan), the Kamog junction-Pappa-Bagong Balluay-Tuel junction (Section 2, Sablan to Tublay), Sections 4A and 4B of the Bokod-Labey-Lacamen Provincial road (Tublay to Bokod to Tublay again), and the Taloy Norte junction-San Pascual Brgy. Hall junction (Section 7 in Tuba).
RPMC commended the Cordillera office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-CAR) for fast-tracking the implementation of the road sections of the outer ring and ensuring proper slope protection through rock netting and riprap, as appropriate. This was a major concern in 2018 when Senator Panfilo Lacson, in a budget hearing, called out DPWH-CAR on the Labey-Lacamen (Bokod-Tublay) provincial roads where there were reports of incidents of landslide and rock falls.
In the exit conference, RPMC requested the DPWH to follow-up with Benguet Caretaker Congressman Eric Yap on the conversion of local roads into national roads within the BLISTT circumferential ring. The proposed conversion was a bill initiated by former Benguet Congressman Ronald Cosalan. DPWH-CAR Regional Director Khadaffy Tanggol stressed the significance of the roads saying: “We have to fast track all our projects, especially through this pandemic. It has a very big impact on our economy.”
The BLISTT outer circumferential ring project is a product of collaborative efforts through the Cordillera Regional Development Council and specifically between the regional offices of the DPWH and NEDA. These two agencies conducted a feasibility study for the 144-kilometer road network spanning the BLISTT towns and including Bokod, Benguet. Funding started in 2017 with an estimate of 450 million pesos in 3 phases for the start of the project. As of 2020, 26.8 kilometers or 43% of concrete road was completed with 27.7 kilometers yet to be funded amounting to 6.6 billion pesos including the additional slope protection costs.
By Marlo Lubguban