PGTW: Short circuit

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 10 April 2014, Thursday

Short circuit

Last Saturday’s event at the Globe Circuit Event Grounds in Makati City was marred by a traffic snarl of nightmarish proportions that left many stuck for hours in their cars.

The event was the Closeup Forever summer concert that featured famous names in electronic dance music entertainment. Predictably, it attracted hordes of young people like ants to a cupcake.

People parked their cars on the streets, from AP Reyes Avenue fronting the venue entrance all the way to Pasong Tamo extension and the side streets. Traffic was virtually halted from blocks away. At 9pm that night, it took us 45 minutes in a friend’s car to get from Shopwise on Pasong Tamo to the corner of JP Rizal Avenue, a trip that usually takes only five minutes.

At the corner of JP Rizal and AP Reyes Avenue, movement stopped. At that point, we got out of the car and walked a block to our house behind Circuit. We brushed our way past groups of young maidens wearing flower crowns and shorts, young men reeking of cologne and alcohol bought from the convenience store at the corner, Makati traffic aides trying to undo the tangle of cars and jeepneys full of people trying in vain to get anywhere that night.

It was horrible. We pitied the people stuck in unmoving cars and folks who, like us, were forced to get out of vehicles and walk carrying heavy loads (my daughter carried a case of canned cat food on her shoulder). We were even sorry for the dozens of concert-goers milling outside the venue, desperate for tickets.

The venue developers – Ayala Land, Inc. – should have anticipated this scenario. The main road in front of the present entrance to Circuit is AP Reyes Avenue. It is the end-point of Pasong Tamo and, being wide, generally promotes the smooth and speedy flow of cars going to Manila and Mandaluyong.

Back in the day when the property was the Santa Ana racetrack, traffic wasn’t an issue, not even on the biggest racing days of the year, because there were parking areas inside.

Nowadays, parking is only outside, on the street. The concerts and other events at Circuit now draw massive crowds that racing never enjoyed. The other possible entrance to Circuit, on Hippodromo St., on the other side of Pasong Tamo, is closed because that part of the property is still under development.

If traffic was that awful for just one popular event, how much worse will it be when the property is fully developed?

According to various press releases on the Internet, Circuit Makati will have structures such as “an indoor performing arts theater with 1,500 seats;” a multi-purpose venue called the Black Box for “more intimate events;” and the outdoor event grounds that covers two hectares that “can accommodate up to 20,000 people at once.”

Also planned are sports zones with a skate park; a “FIFA-size football turf…with bleachers that can comfortable seat 2,000 fans;” a “grand mall;” a hotel; a “warehouse innovation of smaller shops, restaurants, art galleries, and other merchants;” and 20 residential condominiums, a building to be built each year for 20 years.

Imagine how dense the population in the area will become, how thick the traffic, how inconvenient not only for present residents but also the future ones, as well as future mall-goers and event-attenders and people passing by on their way to someplace else.

Anticipating “pedestrian traffic,” Ayala Land “is working with the local government in creating a BRT system within the development.” The press release I found failed to define “BRT”, but on the ‘Net the most likely meaning is “bus rapid transit.”

They are also looking into the “possible re-introduction of ferries along, and the rehabilitation of, the Pasig River to ease traffic within the city” as well as the construction of an “extension line that will extend from Ayala Avenue and terminate” at Circuit Makati.

When will all these transport solutions be implemented, if at all? The present infrastructure will not be able to accommodate the anticipated load from all these developments.

People in the area are suffering not only from the occasional traffic knot but also from the side-effects of the construction. We live right behind Circuit, and when construction started a couple of years ago, dust blew into our homes and coated everything, including our lungs. Everyone in our household was plagued with respiratory illnesses.

Then the developer put up a bamboo wall that screened some of the debris, which helped somewhat. However, some months ago, they took down the part of the screen in front of our house; again, our living room looks like a drunk Mount Pinatubo barged in and vomited ash all over my books and furniture.

So if it isn’t traffic, it’s dust, the earthquake-like rumblings of heavy equipment, and the noisy wub-wub-wub whenever there’s an event. And my rhinitis and dust allergy are back. Progress comes with a price, but those of us who do not stand to benefit from it shouldn’t have to pay. ***

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