BAGUIO CITY – The establishment of a multi-level parking building at any appropriate location including the former city auditorium site at Burham Park is still the best solution to the city’s traffic problem.
Traffic expert Engr. Teodorico Tan who serves as technical consultant of the Traffic and Transportation Management Committee upheld thus as he debunked claims by some quarters including the Department of Tourism Cordillera (DOT-CAR) that a mass transport system rather than the construction of a parking building will address the congestion woes.
Tan told the TTMC in a meeting last week that the City’s traffic problem cannot be addressed by a simple mass transport system which he said would only work for the local population as it cannot be imposed on tourists.
“In Manila maybe, the mass transport system may be effective but Manila’s traffic situation is different from ours because Baguio is a point of destination where people come to stay for days. We are not like EDSA which is just a transit point where the traffic situation can be addressed by a simple mass transport system,” Tan said.
Tan also said the choice of the city auditorium area at Burnham Park as parking building site is practicable.
“The area is ideal as it is spacious and situated at the corner so any construction will not affect the aesthetics of the park. More importantly, there are no trees in the area that will be affected by the construction and it is presently being used for the same purpose,” he said.
He said a parking facility at Burnham Park is a must if only to provide a place for vehicles and prevent them from loitering around thereby contributing to the traffic congestion and pollution at the park.
“Consider this, a family visits the park in their car and since there is no parking space, the family members would hop off leaving their driver in the car to roam around until a space becomes available and in the process contribute to the traffic and pollution in the park. Think how many tourists and locals do this,” Tan said.
He also disproved claims that a parking building will just exacerbate the traffic and pollution problem at Burnham Park as it will just attract more vehicles just to avail of the parking services.
“We can’t say that. I don’t think tourists will come up to Baguio merely because of the presence of a parking building,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Mauricio Domogan reiterated that the development of certain portions of Burnham Park for income generation is allowed under Executive Order No. 224 issued by former President Fidel V. Ramos in February 1995 as amended by Executive Order No. 695 issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009 allows the introduction of development projects within the identified developable areas within the 34-hectare Burnham Park complex to make the government property a self-sustaining park.
The mayor said the city auditorium and the Ganza parking lot are the only two areas pinpointed and these are presently being utilized for parking.
“It’s not just any site at Burnham Park that we are pinpointing but only these two areas which have already been serving that purpose as parking areas for many years now. Our intention is only to maximize their use as such,” the mayor said in reaction to the DOT-CAR’s opposition to the parking plan and the City’s alleged failure to get the agency’s consent on improvements within the park.
He said the City does not intend to bypass the authority of DOT-CAR or any concerned agency on the matter but is merely waiting for the final and definitive plan to be completed before it can be presented to the agencies.
“As it is, we are still in the stage of conducting public consultations and we intend to follow all the procedures required in adopting a final plan for the park,” the mayor said.
During the Baguio City Police Office’s engagement with the transport sector held recently as spearheaded by Police Director Ramil Saculles, jeepney and taxi associations expressed their support to the construction of parking facilities in the city.
The Federation of Jeepney Operators and Associations Baguio-Benguet (FEJODABB) is expected to come up with a resolution of support to the plan./Aileen P. Refuerzo