Reuters

The Philippines capital turns roads into temporary highways to ease shopping-related congestion

Just like in the U.S., the holidays are high season for shopping in the Philippines. The streets of Manila jam up with consumers crawling their way to malls and shopping centers. Traffic has become such a problem that officials have created a citywide solution: temporarily removing street parking, stop signs and traffic signals on roads leading to major shopping destinations.

Known as “Christmas Lanes,” this network of roads-turned-highways launched last December on 12 streets, covering 157 kilometers. The streamlined sections of roads create one-way feeder routes that are intended to ease traffic congestion as shoppers flood into the city toward shopping centers. This holiday season, the city has expanded its Christmas Lanes to cover 45 streets and more than 200 kilometers.

These temporary highways are intended to serve as alternate routes, diverting traffic away from the city’s main thoroughfares. And the scheme seems to be working, the Manila Sun Star reports. A December 2010 study of traffic on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, one of the city’s main arteries, showed that average traffic speeds increased by about 14 percent – from 27.98 km/h to 32.07 km/h – after the implementation of alternate routes.

Devised by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the traffic management scheme creates a temporary network of inner-city highways leading directly to shopping destinations. This set of detailed maps shows which roads have been converted and, in the spirit of the season, even offers directions to the city’s most popular shopping malls.

Top image: A traffic controller wearing a Santa Claus costume dances as he directs motorists along an intersection in Pasay City in Metro Manila. Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo

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