By Sarwell Meniano
TACLOBAN CITY — After more than a year of technical review, the San Juanico Bridge lighting project will finally start with the groundbreaking on July 26.
This was confirmed by Department of Tourism-8 Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes who said that works on bridge illumination is expected to be completed by December this year.
“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 in a press briefing last July 10.
The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will be funding the P80-million bridge lighting project. It will use light-emitting diodes, one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies.
Tiopes said the launching of the project has been delayed due to lengthy technical review by TIEZA and the 2019 election ban for government infrastructure work.
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, 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