May 24, 2024

The Pines Park bridge in Km. 4, La Trinidad, Benguet was again closed to vehicles for a few more finishing touches according to the Benguet First District Engineering Office of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Project Engineer Marites Reoteres said the bridge is undergoing asphalting and painting by the contractor. 

“At most, we are hoping that the contractor would be able to finish all the works this April so that the bridge would be totally opened,” Reoteres said.

During the Holy Week break from March 28 to 31, the bridge was opened for one-way where vehicles can enter but had to exit at the diversion road.

Reoteres said they have already inspected the bridge and found it satisfactory, but they are waiting for the signing of the certificate of acceptance from the municipal government.

After signing of the certificate, where the LGU would conduct its own inspection of the project, it would be brought back to the DPWH for the release of payment to the contractor.

The P77-million bridge project expired on Dec. 19, 2023 thus, the contractor shall pay the liquidated damages for each day of the delay.

Reoteres earlier said they are also trying to contact the telecommunications companies to fix their own wires at the bridge area. She said only Benguet Electric Cooperative has fixed its wires, while most of the telecom wires remain dangling at the bridge as they don’t know who to contact.  

The bridge was designed as a two-way lane with sidewalks on both sides. However, the lane merged into one at the bridge approach going to the national highway.  

This is pending negotiations with affected lot owners in the area by the municipal and barangay local government units.

Meanwhile, the proposed expropriation ordinance is now up for third and final reading at the Sangguniang Bayan, which empowers the mayor on behalf of the municipal government to exercise the power of eminent domain or pursue expropriation proceedings over the two parcels of land at the entrance of the bridge from the national highway.

The affected lots are part of the road right of way and these are registered under Judith Kios and Buguias Mayor Ruben Tindaan. 

Councilor Bartolome Baldas, Jr., who authored the landmark ordinance, said the measure is one of the essential requisites for the expropriation of private properties for public use according to precedent cases ruled by the Supreme Court.

Expropriation is the government’s power to take private property for public use upon just compensation to the owner.

Also, the power of eminent domain is exercised for public use, there is payment of just compensation, and a valid and definite offer has been previously made to the owner of the property sought to be expropriated, but said offer was not accepted. – Ofelia C. Empian