TACLOBAN CITY, December 19, 2017 — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has set a 30-day timeline to make the two bridges in Biliran cut off by tropical storm “Urduja” passable.
During last Monday afternoon’s press briefing at the Naval State University in Biliran’s capital, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said work had started to build detour bridges to make the Caraycaray and Catmon Bridges passable within a month.
“Expect that we are working full time. All DPWH assets are being deployed for immediate repair of damaged infrastructure,” he said.
Villar said there are ongoing clearing operations in several sections of Biliran Circumferential Road to reopen access to the provincial capital. The highway is considered an alternative route to Naval town from Tacloban, the regional capital.
Taking the alternate highway means driving 90 kilometers farther from Biliran town to neighboring Naval town.
According to DPWH regional information officer Antonieta Lim, Catmon Bridge in Biliran town and Caraycaray Bridge in the capital town of Naval are categorized by DPWH as old bridges built 40 years ago without major rehabilitation activities.
“The plan is to replace the two bridges with longer and taller structures so it can resist strong currents. The DPWH has yet to come up with budget requirements for these projects,” Lim said in a mobile phone interview.
Aside from Biliran-Naval Road, still impassable as of Tuesday morning is the highway linking Caibiran town to Naval due to landslide, eroded pavement, and badly damaged slope protection.
Villar was in Biliran to inspect collapsed bridges, blocked roads, and ongoing clearing operation in landslide-hit areas.
President Rodrigo Duterte visited the storm-stricken province late Monday afternoon to check the impact of the storm. The Chief Executive and his Cabinet promised to mobilize all resources to help the recovery of one of the country’s smallest provinces. (Sarwell Meniano with reports from Jeraldyn F. Bagasin OJT/PNA)