CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 26 September) — Local preservation advocates here are raising a howl over a government plan to demolish the iconic 77-year-old Ysalina Bridge in this city.
Raul Ilogon, leader of Kagay-an Heritage Advocates, urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the city government to abandon plans to demolish the bridge, citing its historical value for Cagayan de Oro.
Ilogan said they want the bridge spared from any development plans in the city, and instead preserve it for the future generations to appreciate.
“We are not anti-development, but there is so much history on that bridge,” he said.
Engr. Sabeniano Caliao, DPWH – Region 10 Planning and Design Division chief, said that Ysalina Bridge would have to be demolished for “ safety reasons.”
He noted that DPWH technicians who examined closely the steel girders, which support the bridge’s deck, found it corroded despite the retrofit or rebar done on its structure.
Caliao said the corrosion extended to the steel piles and caps that support the structure, making it unsafe for vehicles and the public.
“The sea water that crept up the river from Macajalar Bay during high tide (worsen) the steel corrosion on the bridge,” Caliao said.
Ysalina Bridge, named after former Misamis Oriental Governor Paciencio Ysalina, was the first bridge that connected the eastern and western portion of Cagayan de Oro.
The first bridge that crossed the Cagayan de Oro River was built between 1880 and 1890 and was made of bamboo. The bridge was ordered constructed by Major Juan Zanon, a military governor of Misamis Oriental.
The Cagayan de Oro Historical Commission said the bridge was demolished later and was replaced with a bridge made of steel in 1931. The bridge was destroyed during World War II.
The Commission said the present bridge was constructed in 1946 and have undergone several retrofitting to repair its girders and trusses that were corroded by rust.
Caliao said the DPWH plans to construct two bridges to replace the Ysalina Bridge. The two bridges would have four lanes to accommodate vehicular traffic.
He said a bicycle lane would be constructed on the side of the bridge and guardrails for human traffic in the opposite side.
“Bicycles and human traffic would have separate spans. These would be separate to the spans of the vehicular traffic,” Caliao said.
Apart from the bridges that would replace the old Ysalina Bridge, the DPWH plans to construct three more bridges to accommodate future vehicular traffic.
Ilogon said they are asking authorities to spare the old Ysalina Bridge and instead construct a new bridge anywhere along the Cagayan de Oro River.
“Let the residents enjoy its history by sparing Ysalina Bridge and opening it to foot traffic,” Ilogon said.
He said demolishing the bridge would violate Republic Act No. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, which states that immovable cultural properties, like the Ysalina Bridge, are considered cultural property.
Ilogon said the old bridge is entitled to protection and preservation under the law.
Cagayan de Oro administrator Roy Hilario Raagas said Mayor Rolando Uy wants to meet Ilogon and the other members of the Kagay-an Heritage Advocates before deciding on the fate of the old Ysalina Bridge.
Raagas, a lawyer, said Uy is also waiting for the results of the new tests that the DPWH conducted on the old bridge two weeks ago. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)