Editorial: Wisdom of road closures

THE warning came early. Organizers told the public two days before the 30th SEA Games Torch Run that some roads will be closed and traffic rerouted today, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.

The notice was the least organizers can do but, as past road closures showed, commuters and vehicles would not be spared of a burden added to their already burgeoning transport woes. It makes one wonder if authorities could not think of another way to hold a run or parade or procession with minimal additional load on the public.

Torch run organizers said in notices Thursday the public should avoid the closed roads, leave for their destinations early, before the scheduled closure, or take the alternate routes.

The public should expect the closure of the southbound lane of the South Road Properties from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or later, until the run is done. The other half, the northbound lane, will be two-way to accommodate those going to Cebu City and south Cebu.

The Cebu City Transportation Office said it would field 31 traffic personnel to manage the flow of vehicles.

The activity is expected to have 6,000 participants to run the five-kilometer stretch. Joining them are 10 torchbearers who are athletes joining the Games, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.

Cebu is not part of the four venue clusters for the Games that will happen Nov. 30 to Dec. 11. A total of 56 sports competitions will be held in venue clusters, namely, Clark, Subic, Manila and Tagaytay. Cebu’s contribution is the torch run.

It is understandable that Cebu has to do its part. Although Cebu is not a Games venue, this sacrifice on Saturday will be its contribution to the success of the country’s hosting this year of the Southeast Asian sports competition.

Traffic managers will be busy imposing the rerouting and giving directions. We wish them luck in marshalling the vehicles. In Manila, a dry-run of the rerouting to prepare for the Games opening ceremony reportedly ended in lapses and confusion. Private vehicles were seen inside the special lane meant for bus convoys; some even joined the convoy for a faster drive.

Although the closure will be on a weekend in Cebu, congestion knows no day off as roads can be full of vehicles on a Saturday or Sunday, especially in the late afternoon to evening.

Traffic managers may have to review the practice of closing roads for events and think of new ways to hold these activities without additional burden.

Think out of the box. Hold the run outside of Metro Cebu. Pick a different time. A torch run could look even better late night, even midnight.

Desperate times call for traffic managers to explore new ways, new solutions.