City officials urged the Department of Public Works and Highways–Cordillera Administrative Region (DPWH-CAR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways–Baguio City District Engineering Office (DPWH-BCDEO) to submit within ten days upon receipt to the local legislative body an updated status report on the ongoing rehabilitation of Kenon Road as of March 2021.
Under Resolution No. 148, series of 2021, signed by Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong, city councilors stated the need for the city legislative body to be updated on the ongoing rehabilitation of Kennon Road including the plans and projects, implementation timelines for road clearings and other documents of the road projects being implemented along the major road going in and out of the city.
Earlier, the DPWH-CAR presented to the Council its long-term solutions, milestones and accomplishments on the ongoing rehabilitation of Kennon Road to ensure this will become an all-weather road once all the landslide-prone areas have been rehabilitated through various slope protection projects funded by the national government.
For a number of years now, Kennon Road has been closed to vehicular traffic, except for the residents living in the communities along the stretch of the 34-kilometer highway, after the concerned agencies declared there are serious threats to road users from unpredictable landslides and erosions along critical sections of the road that need to be rehabilitated.
Kennon Road, formerly the Benguet Road, was constructed in 1903 and opened in 1905, is the shortest route from the lowlands to the city and vice versa. It served as the city’s major roadline to and from the lowlands prior to the July 16, 1990 killer earthquake that caused its closure to vehicular traffic because of the unstable rock and soil formations along the stretch of the roadline.
From time to time, Kennon Road has been opened to light vehicles during special occasions in the city to help decongest Marcos Highway, the main road leading to the city proper.
Since the road was heavily devastated by the 1990 killer quake, the public works department had been earmarking funds for the implementation of numerous projects to stabilize the slopes, but the situation of the national highway was never the same again because of unstable slopes along the stretch of the roadline.
Other options are being considered to ensure the proper maintenance of the road and to make sure it will be an all-weather road is for its privatization to pass on to the concessionaire the implementation of high impact development projects to ensure the smooth flow of vehicular traffic so that motorists could immediately reach their desired destination in the city the soonest.
By Dexter A. See
Photo by Joseph B. Manzano