Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Asphalt Overlays Sink Roadside Houses in the Philippines

Roads in the Philippines are slowly raised by repeated asphalt overlays that sink houses and buildings beside the roads and cause flooding inside residential and commercial lots.

Have you ever seen roads in the Philippines that are almost as high or even higher than the sidewalk? There's plenty of those in Metro Manila and even provinces like Quezon, for example, there are roads there that have been overlayed repeatedly with asphalt by local governments for years so some of the roads are now higher than the sidewalks! The same problem can be found in Rizal where asphalt overlays are applied over major roads even when there's no need for an overlay. During election periods, this practice is common.

At first, this practice seems helpful in that it keeps construction budgets to a minimum, but in the long term, it becomes a problem to motorists and to houses and other structures beside the raised roads. When the sidewalks are repaved, for instance, they are constructed at a higher level to match that of the road already elevated with too many asphalt overlays. This technically results in the "sinking" of the houses and other buildings by the roadside. The causes flooding in the rainy season in many residential lots that ended up below the level of the road and sidewalk. For motorists, the ditch created between the asphalt and the sidewalk becomes a motorist's nightmare. In one incident, a motorcyclist take a spill when his front wheel slipped into the ditch and he fell with his head almost getting run over by one of the front wheels of a jeepney.

Poor supervision of construction of overlayed or repaved roads and sidewalks sometimes lead to blocked driveways which was the case of the parking lot of a church in UP Village in Quezon City, which was blocked by a new sidewalk after the road was repaved at a higher level than the old one. One car which used to pass through the driveway ended up with the front wheels "hanging" and meeting only air. The driver wasn't aware the new sidewalk had blocked access. The church had to remedy the problem with a concrete ramp inside the compound. In other places in the same area, wheelchair ramps were added to the sidewalks (in accordance with the law), but some are useless because of their steep angle and some ramps even go up against an obstacle that blocks any wheelchair from getting through!

The Department of Public Works Highways (DPWH) engineers and construction people must consider the negative effects if the roads being maintained are raised with asphalt overlays along with the sidewalks. They need to consider two things: too much asphalt overlays cause flooding in the properties beside the roads, they affect accessibility, and they make the roads dangerous. Because of frequent asphalt overlays, some roads in the Philippines get higher by several inches every few years, and the roadside also continue to sink. Philippine lawmakers should pass a law that specifies that roads and sidewalks should not be made higher than the sidewalk and roadside properties unless there is a valid reason.

The Gotohan sa Hardin restaurant in Ortigas Road Extension in Rizal is already sunken due to multiple asphalt overlays and higher sidewalks. It gets submerged during heavy rains.

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