Safety assessment needed for Puraran access road
posted 23-Apr-2018  ·  
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Mayor Chito Chi and the local government of Baras should be commended for acting swiftly on the horrifc Easter Sunday mishap down the Puraran access road that killed two people and injured other members of their family.

Aside from sending social welfare and DRRM personnel to visit the affected families to offer the LGU’s assistance, the mayor also called to a meeting the police barangay officials and the resort owners to address several issues, including the lack of warning signs and lighting at the tourist spots of Baras despite the surge of visitors in recent months.

But what seems to be missing is an effort to resolve the unsafe design of the access road and its lack of safety features.

Constructed more than 10 years ago, the concrete road is steep, has many blind corners and lack barriers particularly near its end leading to the beach where the overloaded tricycle plunged into big boulders.

According to road safety engineers, a vehicle leaving the road and colliding with a barrier or a tree or lighting post should not result in death or serious injuries, as long as the vehicle’s speed is reasonable close to the speed for which the road was designed. This will not hold true, they declared, is the speed is much higher than the road design speed.

“Since vehicle speed is usually under the direct and immediate control of the driver or rider, it is essential to provide the road user with clear signals about the type of road environment they are in, reinforced with specific information at appropriate points,” the World Road Association said in its Road Safety Manual.

It should be obvious, without even asking, that the Puraran access road was designed merely with “access” in mind, without considering the safety of the motorists.

There are no signages advising drivers to drive at recommended speeds and to slow down at the sharp curves. The road is narrow for the two-lane traffic and does not even have safety barriers at its sides to keep vehicles from falling into the steep mountainside.

There is no way for a vehicle at an uncontrollable speed to make the sharp right-hand turn for the beach at the bottom of the mountain, making it inevitable for the speeding vehicle to dive into the rocks below.

What the Baras municipal government should do as an extra step is to ask the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Catanduanes Engineering District to assess the Puraran access road as to its safety based on the agency’s Highway Safety Design Standards Manual.

Such an evaluation of the existing road should determine what the LGU needs to do as far as improving the road is concerned, including the provision of inside widening for sharp curves, so-called recoverable slopes for out-of-control vehicles, and guardrails at the road sides.

This move would make sure that the death of Febes David and grandchild Justine Laurence David would somehow make the Puraran beach resort a safer place for tourists and visiting islanders alike.

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