12 June 2017

Batangas City to Puerto Galera in 18 Minutes by Super Bridge?

Image credit:  cropped from the 26 August 2015 post of former Batangas Vice-Governor Mark Leviste.
The historical connection between the island of Mindoro and the Province of Batangas dates back to the dawn of the Spanish colonial era, and likely even earlier. In 1570, a Spanish expedition from Panay headed by Colonel Martin de Goite and Captain Juan de Salcedo to explore the island of Luzon made its final hop into the main island likely from the port of Puerto Galera in Mindoro.

This hop allowed the Spanish conquistadores to explore Bombon (Taal Lake) and Balayan before they sailed on to their ultimate destination, the kingdom that is known in the present day as Manila1.

There was even a period in the final quarter of the 16th century when Mindoro was governed from Balayan, part as it was of a large province called the Province of Bombon, Balaian (Balayan) and Mindoro2.

If plans push through for the construction of a “super bridge” that will connect Mindoro to the Luzon mainland, in a symbolic sense, the island presently divided geo-politically as Oriental and Occidental Mindoro will also be reunited with Batangas.

The proposed bridge, called the Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge, will have a total length of 15 kilometers broken into two sections. The first section runs from Mindoro to Verde Island with a total distance of 8.5 kilometers. The project description at the DPWH web site3 does not specify where in Mindoro the bridge is supposed to begin, but a quick check with Google Earth immediately shows that Puerto Galera is the likeliest place.

A 2015 article on CNN Philippines4 confirms this, naming Puerto Galera’s barangay Sinandigan as the jump-off point. This same article, however, erred in stating the distance between Sinandigan and Verde Island as 4.4 kilometers. Google Earth’s ruler tool shows the distance to be at the very least 7.5 kilometers.

The bridge’s second section will run from Verde Island to Batangas City with a total distance of 6.5 kilometers. The same CNN article named barangay Ilijan as the jump-off point in Batangas City; albeit again, this is not confirmed by the DPWH web site.

Plot of the Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge on Wikipedia. Image credit: by Hariboneagle927 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42688259.

The bridge’s road will either be 2 or 4 lanes, with a pedestrian/bicycle lane being mulled as an option. Part of the bridge is to be elevated high enough to allow the passage of ships, as indeed it will cut through waters of the Calapan-Batangas City sea route.

Because the bridge will run over waters as deep as 300 meters, its piers will not be anchored into the sea floor but instead will stand on pontoons and float on the water. These floating bridges are deemed more cost effective where waters are 30 meters or deeper5.

Obviously, if the project is completed, travel time between Batangas City and Mindoro will be greatly reduced. Presently, the way to get to Puerto Galera from Batangas Port is by light craft. The trip takes about an hour. On the super bridge, a person driving at 50 kph will arrive in Puerto Galera from Ilijan in just 18 minutes.

Puerta Galera, needless to say, will just be the gateway not just to the rest of Mindoro but also to other islands in the south served by RORO vessels. Hence the bridge is being seen as a boost to agriculture and tourism in Mindoro and also to “cater to the increasing demand for expansion and optimization of basic industries or utilities like water, power, oil and telecommunication companies.3

The construction cost stated by the DPWH web site for the bridge is US$75,000 per meter as estimated by a Norwegian construction company. According to the previously mentioned CNN Philippines article, this will amount to an estimated ₱18 billion.

Construction of the super bridge will make it the first floating bridge in Asia6 and the longest bridge of any category in the country. Presently, the longest bridge in the country is the San Juanico Bridge that connects Samar to Leyte. This bridge is just 2.16 kilometers long7.

The Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge will also be more than six times longer than Evergreen Point Floating Bridge8 in Washington State, the latter at 2.4 kilometers presently the longest floating bridge in the world. However, the distinction of being the world’s longest expressway bridge belongs to the Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China, which is a staggering 35.7 kilometers long9.

According to the DPWH web site, the National Economic Development Authority or NEDA in 2015 included the construction of the Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge among its priority projects. Its construction will be undertaken under the umbrella of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Service.

Meanwhile, an article dated May 2017 at the NEDA web site10 says that the construction of the bridge is one of those “up for the approval” by the Investment Coordination Committee. The ICC is made up of the Secretary of Finance, the NEDA Director-General, the Executive Secretary, the Secretary of Agriculture, the DTI Secretary, the Secretary of Budget and Management and the Governor of the Central Bank11.

Notes and references:
1 “Relation of the Voyage to Luzon,” as published in Blair and Robertson’s The Philippine Islands 1569-1576 Volume III.
2 As mentioned in a “Report on the Offices Saleable in the Philippines,” by an unknown author (1582?), as published in the Blair and Robertson series “The Philippine Islands: Volume VI: 1583-1588.”
3Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge,” online at the DPWH web site.
4Proposed 'SuperBridge' to connect Batangas and Mindoro,” online at CNN Philippines.
5How Floating Bridges Work,” online at How Stuff Works Science.
6Mindoro–Batangas Super Bridge,” Wikipedia.
7San Juanico Bridge,” Wikipedia.
8Evergreen Point Floating Bridge,” Wikipedia.
9List of longest bridges,” Wikipedia.
10PHP 157.4-B Infra Projects to Roll Out in Poorest PH Regions,” online at the NEDA web site.
11Investment Coordination Committee,” online at the NEDA web site.

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