Thursday, August 4, 2016

Pili Drive to undergo major renovation: wider, safer, and bike-friendly

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—In a major renovation, Pili Drive (photos), the panoramic and historic road that stretches through a portion of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) campus to the entrance of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquarters, will soon have new bike and pedestrian lanes.

The project is spearheaded by Dr. Marish Madlangbayan, vice chancellor for Planning and Development, under the oversight of UPLB Chancellor Fernando Sanchez, Jr.

Under the road widening project of UPLB, IRRI, and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), full-width lanes will be constructed on both sides of Pili Drive, turning the current thoroughfare into a center lane.

"This will help reduce bike-related accidents," said Glenn Enriquez, head of IRRI's Security Office, who is part of the UPLB-IRRI management committee that is overseeing the project. Pili Drive is also a popular place for joggers, which adds a dangerous mix to the cars and bikes that use the road.

"The plan will also preserve and protect the famous trees that line the drive," explained Enriquez. The road is named for the Pili trees planted along both sides. Some of the older trees were planted more than half a century ago.

"While construction of the new car, bike, and pedestrian lanes is under way, the existing road will still be used," Enriquez assured.

"Moreover, our information and technology team have already looked into the existing placement of IRRI's fiber optic cables near UPLB,” he added. “We've reported the location of the cables to both DPWH and UPLB so that they won't be damaged during construction."

In addition to the full-width roads and separate lanes for bikers and pedestrians, a rotunda will be constructed on one end of Pili Drive near the UPLB Chemical Engineering complex. The rotunda will  be connected to the abandoned pedestrian “hanging bridge” where a new bridge will be constructed to provide an alternative route to the university’s main gate.

The DPWH is financing the project for which construction will start sometime later this year. The project is estimated to take around seven months to complete.

(Article by Paul Bianca Ferrer. Photos by Gene Hettel.)

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