By Sarwell Meniano and Roel Amazona
TACLOBAN CITY — The San Juanico Bridge lighting project will finally start soon, after over a year of extensive review of technical details by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).
Officials had set July 26 for the groundbreaking of the much-awaited project, the Department of Tourism (DOT) regional office here confirmed.
Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said works on illuminating the bridge is expected to be completed by December.
“This project is a tool to attract tourists to come to our place. If we have many tourists, it becomes an opportunity for people to invest in restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and create new tourism activities,” Tiopes told reporters on Wednesday.
The PHP80-million bridge lighting project, funded by the TIEZA, has been delayed due to lengthy technical review and 2019 election ban for government infrastructure work, Tiopes said.
It will use light-emitting diodes, one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies.
It was proposed that there would be a 10-minute light show for six times nightly that may include water, light, and laser aspects. Every night, there would be six-hour park mode or static mode lights with the subtle movement of lights.
Just like other shows, its colors will be in support of various events throughout the year, the lighting will also be programmed to celebrate special occasions.
Last year, then-Samar governor Sharee Ann Tan shared the idea of illuminating the iconic bridge to then-Tacloban City mayor Cristina Romualdez, Regional Development Council chairperson, in an effort to add vibrancy and interest to night-time tourism.
At present, tourists can enjoy daytime activities at the San Juanico Bridge through the tour packages offered by a private operator, Aqua Momentum.
The bridge’s transformation would be a new attraction under the Spark Samar, a branding campaign initially launched in 2015.
Once called the Marcos Bridge, the San Juanico Bridge was built in August 1969 over the San Juanico Strait, the narrowest navigational strait in the world that separates Samar and Leyte Islands, and was completed in December 1972.
The bridge that spans 2.162-kilometer was built as part of the Pan-Philippine Highway now called the Maharlika Highway, a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. (PNA)