By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it is not feasible to build a bridge connecting Mindanao and Visayas because the waters at the entrance of the Surigao Strait are too deep.

“It’s not feasible. Supposedly we could build that from Surigao to Southern Leyte pero malalim (but the water is too deep),” DPWH Senior Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain told BusinessWorld.

“It’s not feasible for long-span bridges. The proven technology (is good for up to) 50 meters of water depth,” he added.

Southern Leyte and Surigao are the points where the Visayas and Mindanao are closest. Surigao City and Southern Leyte also form the opening of the Surigao Strait, a major waterway between the Pacific Ocean and Philippine inland waters.

Mr. Sadain said connecting Mindanao with the Visayas is for now best carried out by roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessels, adding that an undersea tunnel could someday also serve as the link if costs can be contained to acceptable levels.

“For the meantime, RoRo lang talaga sya (it’s only for RoRo) or you can build a tunnel but that would be more expensive,” Mr. Sadain added.

In August, the DPWH said it had submitted a proposal to conduct feasibility studies for Liloan Bridge in Southern Leyte for consideration of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The department had said that the construction of a new bridge adjacent to the current Liloan Bridge was a priority because it forms part of the national arterial highway linking Luzon to Mindanao via the Eastern Visayas.

The new four-lane bridge is needed “to meet the expanding traffic capacity because Liloan and nearby San Ricardo town have roll-on/roll-off ports that serve ferries going to Surigao,” the DPWH said.