Deal reached: LRT-MRT common station between SM North, TriNoma
MANILA, Philippines – It's final: The proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) common station will be constructed between SM North EDSA and TriNoma malls.
This is to end the impasse over the 2009 train station project, which hampered the construction of some badly-needed mass transit infrastructure projects, like the MRT Line 7 (MRT7).
The compromise agreement between all stakeholders will be signed on Wednesday, September 28, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said in a statement.
According to the DOTr, the common station – which will connect the MRT7, MRT Line 3 (MRT3), and LRT Line 1 (LRT1) – will provide a common concourse or atrium where train commuters can conveniently transfer from one line to another.
The Department of Public Works and Highways also said there is "an underpass being built that will seamlessly integrate with the common station."
The legal roadblock
The transportation department said this agreement will pave the way for the filing of a joint motion to the Supreme Court to lift the temporary restraining order.
SM Prime Holdings Incorporated (SMPHI) in August 2014 obtained a Supreme Court order stopping the transportation department and the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) from transferring the location of the common station to TriNoma mall.
The basis of the order was a September 28, 2009 memorandum of agreement between SMPHI and LRTA, agreeing that the common station should be beside SM North EDSA, after the mall developer paid the government P200 million for the naming rights to the proposed station.
Despite the agreement, the government in 2014 insisted that putting up the proposed common station near TriNoma mall would result in "P1 billion in savings to the government" and benefit passengers as the Quezon City government is establishing the North Triangle area as a new business district.
When Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade assumed office, he promised to get all stakeholders to reach an agreement on the common station within his first 100 days.
A hurdle to infra projects
The department said in the statement that it was during a meeting last September 8 when SM's Tessie Sy-Coson and Hans Sy, Ayala Corporation's Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, San Miguel Corporation's Ramon Ang, and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation's Manuel V. Pangilinan agreed on the location of the common station.
On Wednesday, all stakeholders will formalize this agreement by signing a memorandum of understanding.
The issue of the common station's location has been stopping the construction of the MRT7 and design work for the common station project that has been bundled with the P64.9-billion LRT1 Cavite Extension public-private partnership (PPP) deal. (READ: PH's PPP thrust: Work in progress)
The MRT7's 25-year concession agreement, signed by San Miguel Corporation (SMC)-backed Universal LRT Corporation (ULC) in 2008, calls for the common station to be located near SM North EDSA.
Meanwhile, the Light Rail Manila Consortium (LRMC), led by Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and Ayala Corporation, has a say in the design of the common station. – Rappler.com