Issue of August 4, 2019
     
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City sets experiment for weekly closure of Sesssion
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The uphill lane of the historic Session Road will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning today, Aug. 4, and every Sunday thereafter until the city government is able to determine if the weekly closure of the road is feasible given the limited alternate routes. 

Only pedestrians will be allowed to use one lane of the road during the closure period from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In a public advisory released by the Public Information Office of the Mayor’s Office and the Baguio City Police Office, Wednesday, the lane beginning from Development Bank of the Philippines up to Mercury Drug Upper Session Road (across the public restroom) will be closed.

The Session Road-Mabini Street intersection shall be the only street that will be open to traffic for vehicles from Gen. Luna Road Street exiting to Harrison Road.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong said in a press briefing, Friday, the experiment will be for one month, after which he will ask the Environment Management Bureau to measure air quality at the area. He said if the experiment is able to significantly reduce air pollution, he will recommend to the city council for the weekly closure to become permanent.

“If it is successful, I will submit my recommendation to the city council so they will pass an ordinance making the scheme permanent.”

Under the 1991 Local Government Code, decision to close roads is lodged with the council. 

Magalong said the closure is also to encourage people to walk.

The mayor said he also intends to direct concerned departments at City Hall to beautify the road by decorating the area with ornamental plants.

Traffic Management Unit head Maj. Oliver Panabang said he would immediately give a feedback to BCPO Director, Col. Allen Rae Co if the scheme turned out to be effective. 

Panabang said he is not aware if motorists and business establishments along Session Road were consulted about the closure.

Panabang said that Sunday was chosen as the most feasible day to close one lane of the road because traffic movement is less constricted compared to Saturdays where traffic is “chaotic.”

He said he also informed concerned city officials that the closure of even a portion of the road will have an adverse effect in traffic movement at Magsaysay Avenue, Harrison Road, Abanao Road, Gov. Pack Road, General Luna, and even Upper Session Road.

“Tignan natin kung uubra kasi pasukan na ng lahat ng estudyante sa Lunes, (Aug. 5).”

Panabang said inquiries, suggestions, and reactions to the experimental traffic scheme may be coursed through the official social media pages of the BCPO, the Baguio City Public Information Office or these numbers: 0917-575-8993, 0998-598-7739, 442-1211, 442-7944, 661-1471, 422-1953, and hotline 166.

Under the terms of former mayors Braulio Yaranon and Reinaldo Bautista Jr., pedestrianization of Session Road was implemented but this was cut short after motorists complained that the closure resulted in traffic build-up in adjacent roads and streets.

Since then, the closure of Session Road to vehicles has been set every Baguio Day, Earth Day, Dec. 1 for the Christmas in Baguio activities, and Panagbenga Festival only.


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