TACLOBAN CITY – Leyte and Samar provinces look forward to the completion soon of the San Juanico Bridge lighting project which they expect to brighten their Christmas celebration, after months of community quarantine lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Measuring 2.16 kilometers long, the San Juanico Bridge connects the islands of Leyte and Samar with their combined five provinces that comprise Eastern Visayas (Region 8). It is one of the country’s longest bridges. The longest is the 5-kilometer Bulacan-Pampanga viaduct in Central Luzon.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) said the San Juanico Bridge lighting project is now 75% complete and will be fully operational by end of November. It will be an additional night attraction for both residents and travelers in the area.
DOT Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes said there will be more reasons to visit the bridge and not just take pictures. “It will generate and create economic activities from tourism. This will be a night and daytime attraction,” she added during its test lighting over the weekend.
Tiopes said the project completion will be timely for the Christmas season after months of delay due to logistical hurdles caused by the health crisis. “This is another first in the region. It will make Christmas merrier for people who have been staying at home due to pandemic,” she stressed.
Engr. Cris dela Rea, director for engineering of Amigo Entertainment Technologies, Inc., the project contractor, said 14,000 lights are being installed along the stretch of the 2.16 kilometers bridge that spans the San Juanico Strait.
“November is the start of programming and partial turnover of lights. The full operation is at the end of November,” dela Rea said. Under Amigo’s initial plan, the lighting will be in the default position for 45 minutes per hour in white and strobe lights.
There will be a 10-minute light show six times nightly. Its colors may also depend on the occasion, such as red for Valentine’s, red and green for Christmas, and violet for Lent.
Officials assured the lights will not distract traffic flow on the bridge which forms part of the country’s longest highway that links Luzon to Mindanao.
Aesthetic lights are not visible to motorists passing the bridge, according to the contractor. The bridge’s transformation would be a new attraction under the Spark Samar, a branding campaign of the local government that was launched in 2015.
Samar 2nd District Rep. Sharee Ann Tan, the project proponent, said lighting up the bridge will serve as a “beacon of hope” for Samar and the whole Eastern Visayas region amidst these trying times.
“I look forward to the completion of the project and to that day when we can once again witness and experience our people’s warm hospitality, our culture and food, and our sites,” she said in a statement.
The San Juanico Bridge was built in August 1969 and was completed in December 1972. It forms part of the Pan-Philippine Highway or Maharlika Highway, a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.