MANILA-- After being stalled for several years, the construction of a common station that will connect the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) will start in December 2017.
This after a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed Wednesday by the Deartment of Transportation, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Universal LRT Corporation (BVI) Limited of the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), North Triangle Depot Commercial Corporation (NTDCC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA).
The MOA consists of the parameters for the common station which will be the basis of its detailed engineering design.
The common station that will link LRT Line 1 and MRT Lines 3 and 7 seeks to provide seamless transfer of passengers and interconnectivity between the railway lines.
It is expected to be completed by April 2019.
"We hope that this initiative will be able to provide comfort and ease to passengers," DOTr spokesperson Asec. Cherie Mercado said in an interview.
The station will be located between the SM North and Trinoma in Quezon City, and will be broken down into 3 components: Area A wherein the platform for LRT-1 and MRT-3 are located; Area B which consists of two common walkways connecting Areas A and C; and Area C, where the platform for MRT-7 is located.
The DOTr will finance the construction of the PHP 2.8 billion Area A while the operation, maintenance and development will be split between LMRC for LRT-1 and DOTr for MRT-3.
DOTr explained that the PHP 2.8 billion allocation was needed to further improve the common station.
"The DOTr is seeing this as cost of governance for passenger convenience. It is an improved and bigger station with private sector shouldering part of the cost. The initial location was approximately 7,200 sqm, the second location was approximately 2,500 sqm, while the current location is at 13,700 sqm. The size is projected to answer the future demand in passenger traffic," Mercado said.
Area B will be financed and built by the NTDCC, an affiliate of Ayala Land Inc., and will be in charge of its operation, maintenance and development.
Area C will be financed and built by SMC who will also operate, maintain and develop the area.
For its part, the DPWH will build an underpass along EDSA at the area where the common station will be located.
For his part, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade expressed gratitude to their partners in the construction of the common project. "We want to thank all the parties as you have labored well. This achievement was made possible through the support of the private sector and shows proof that the government and the private sector can work hand in hand," Tugade said.
The agreement was the result of discussions made after the signing of the Term Sheet last September 2016, which settled the dispute over the location of the common station. The Term Sheet outlined the general principles of what was agreed upon, which are needed to move the common station project and identify its location.
Extensive discussions among the parties followed the signing of the Term Sheet which led to their agreement on the design parameters, service level requirements, and the parties' responsibilities and contributions to the project.
The concept design of the common station will be presented to concerned constituents, representatives and local officials before the final design to incorporate concerns from various sectors.
The design shall ensure that all components of the Common Station are interconnected and that SM City North EDSA and Trinoma are interconnected to the station. A defined level of service will also be maintained at all times by providing a bigger space for the station.
"A certain level of space will be limited for stalls so that this will not compromise the level of comfort of passengers and ensure their safety as well," DOTr Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Leah Quiambao said.
SMPHI, DOTr, and LRTA will file a joint manifestation with the Supreme Court to resolve the issue of the temporary restraining order (TRO) on the common station project and proceed with its construction.
An appeal for the dismissal of the case will be filed by all parties to pave way for its final legal resolution after its engineering design is completed by fourth quarter of 2017.
DOTr assures proper handling and planning of traffic impact of Common Station construction and will put in place a Traffic Management Plan that will be approved by the Metro Manila Council and the I-ACT as part of its detailed engineering process.
The common station is expected to serve 40,000 commuters an hour, benefiting over a million commuters in Metro Manila daily once it is constructed.
The Common Station project started in 2009 but was bogged down due to the issue of its location. The LRTA initially signed a PHP200-million deal with SMPHI to build the station in front of SM North EDSA.
Five years later, the DOTC decided to build the station near Ayala's Trinoma mall. SMPHI filed for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which was granted by the Supreme Court in 2014.
Upon assumption into office, DOTr Sec. Tugade vowed to get all shareholders to agree on a single location for the Common Station within his first 100 days.
Finally, on September 28, 2016, principal stakeholders who are also the country's top CEOs signed an agreement identifying a location for the Common Station and decided to build it between SM North and Trinoma, ending an impasse over the seven-year old railway project. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency