SABANGAN, Mountain Province – More than P58 million is needed by the public works department to restore the washed out portion of the Halsema Highway, particularly in Busa here, to bring back the normal flow of traffic along the roadline.
DPWH-CAR regional director Engr. Tiburcio Canlas reported that the regional and district offices of the agency has forwarded to their central office the request for funding of the priority project so that the washed out portion of the roadline will be restored the soonest and provide convenient travel for motorists using the roadline.
At present, motorists going in and out of the province have to pass through Abatan, Bauko in order to reach their destinations entailing an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour from their previous travel time via the old route passing through Busa.
“We appeal for understanding and patience from our motorists as we are awaiting the provision of the needed funds to implement the restoration of the washed out portion of the Halsema Highway so that we can immediately start the implementation of the programed restoration,” Canlas stressed.
Mountain Province district engineer Alexander Castañeda claimed that funds for the project could either come from the government’s calamity funds or from the agency’s regular infrastructure funds but the same depends on the decision of higher authorities who know where to source out the funds for the project.
The Busa section of the Halsema Highway was devastated by the Supertyphoon Ompong and aggravated by Tropical Storm Rosita that virtually rendered some parts of Mountain Province isolated and hundreds of motor vehicles stranded.
Castañeda suggested that the project will be a gabion-type wall as the washed out portion is approximately 120 meters long and 62 meters deep.
According to him, the project could be completed within 3 months once the funds are available so that the motorists do have to take a circuitous route around Bauko to reach their destinations.
He opined the construction of a bridge in the washed out portion of the road is not advisable as this will take longer to be completed compared to the 3-month period to complete the gabion-type wall for the restoration of the washed out portion of the roadline.
The Halsema Highway underwent the needed rehabilitation with the concreting, widening and put up of the necessary slope protection walls and drainage systems along the 150-kilometer road from Baguio City up to Bontoc Mountain Province, followed by the rehabilitation and upgrading of the 50-kilometer Bontoc-Banaue, Ifugao section of the highway during the Arroyo Administration that significantly reduced travel time in reaching the said areas in the region.