The Controversial Mambaling Underpass

A couple of weeks ago, the very controversial Mambaling Underpass was finally opened to the public. The underpass, which is less than a kilometer long, is considered one of the biggest infrastructure projects designed to help alleviate the worsening traffic situation in the Metro. With the underpass in place, traffic from both directions plying along the South National Road will enter the underpass and skip the busy Mambaling-Labangon intersection, therefore decreasing traffic load in the area. Now, that’s the whole concept of the project. Does it work, though? Let’s discuss.




A lot of people were unsatisfied with the outcome. If you are to base the comments section of the Facebook pages of local news publications, the majority believe that the years of sacrifice (horrible traffic every single day during the construction period) was not worth it. A lot of people are also saying that for its budget, they were expecting to see something ‘grander’ and longer. Something similar to the SRP tunnel.

Now, I’m going to present to you an action series (more like a frame by frame) of what it is like to drive through the tunnel. Let’s take a look at each photo and analyze the issues one by one.

Now, let’s imagine we’re entering the underpass from the South (say, Talisay, Pardo, or Minglanilla.)

The original road has three lanes. These three lanes become two lanes as the old road and the underpass connect.

The two roads basically become 1.5 each (from the original 3). So, they’re too small to fit two vehicles comfortably and quite big to just fit one.

Entering the underpass, we will notice that it is breathy and very spacious. Which, I think, is how underpasses should be.

Descending towards the center of the underpass, we will notice the high walls on each side. We will also see the covered drainage system on both sides of the road.

As we are moving closer to the center of the tunnel (presumably also the deepest,) we will notice that the top part of the tunnel remains open.

As we approach the intersection (street-level), we will see slabs of concrete or ‘braces’ across the width of the tunnel. I think this has three purposes: first is for support, and second, to stick to the budget as covering that part completely would take millions of pesos more, and third, for aesthetics. Correct me if I’m wrong, though, as these thoughts are basically from someone who is observing this development as a regular Cebuano (with no experience or knowledge in how construction work is done.)

This is the deepest part of the tunnel, obviously. By keeping the underpass open (from the approach until this area,) we are giving very ‘tall’ vehicles a chance to utilize this infrastructure. Therefore, the height in this area must also be equal to or more than the height that we have to keep clear if we were to cover the whole thing up. So, I believe that not covering the top part of the tunnel completely was understandable as opposed to what a lot are suggesting.

This heavily-covered part is understandably the intersection (for vehicles turning left towards Labangon) so it needed to be really sturdy and solid.

Huge floodlights are in place to keep the area safe for driving even when the sun is out.

The ascent back to the main road is shorter. You’ll also notice that there are lesser ‘braces’ at the top.

There is no sidewalk (obviously people are not allowed to enter the underpass on foot). The ‘sidewalks’ we can see here are actually the covered drainage system on both sides.

If you look closely, you will see the end of the ‘sidewalk’ and you will see the start of the open ‘canal’. It’s that small gap between the wall and the yellow barrier on the road.

There is no center island or barriers in the middle of the two lanes so motorists have to be extra careful at all times.

Here is a view of the ‘side road.’ It is quite spacious and there is room for one vehicle and probably one motorbike to drive at the same time.

So, what do you think of the Mambaling Underpass? Was this project necessary? And now that it’s open to the public, do you think it was able to serve its purpose? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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