Saddle Road 2: One of the most critical sections of saddle road. The road forms part of Liloan-San Ricardo Road that leads to Benit Port, one of the major exit points of Visayas to Mindanao. The road has steep incline and blind curves besides deep cliff make the road section the most dangerous in Eastern Visayas. (DPWH Photo)

PINTUYAN, Southern Leyte – The saddle road leading to Benit port in San Ricardo town is currently the region’s most dangerous road section but this will soon change as improvement project goes full blast this year.
The Department of Public Works and Highways Southern Leyte District Engineering Office (DPWH-SLDEO) is halfway done with the P48 million road realignment concreting project.
“The ongoing works is part of three-year activity designed to prevent road accidents in the area,” said District Engineer Ma. Margarita Junia.
The saddle road, within the boundary of barangays Son-ok and Manglit of the town, forms part of Liloan-San Ricardo Road. It leads to Benit port, one of the major exit points to Mindanao from Visayas.
The road earned the tag as the “region’s most dangerous” after several road accidents killed and injured drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Consolidated report from the local police showed that from 2010 to 2014 alone, four people have been killed and 20 other were seriously injured in saddle road accidents.
The P48 million outlay for this year covers road concreting activities, construction of slope protection works, installation of line canal and metal guardrails.
In 2014, the national government has allocated P20 million for the 560-meter alternative road opening works.
The budget rose to P50 million in 2015 for the opening, widening and lowering of grades.
About half of the 1.6-kilometer critical sections will be transformed into four-lane road by doubling its existing 6.10-meter width to 12.2 meters. Blasting of rocks is ongoing to complement widening projects.
Junia is optimistic to complete all improvement projects for saddle road within the year.
The highway is tagged as a vital link that connects Eastern Visayas to Mindanao.
The DPWH observed that more buses and rolling cargoes use the Benit port in San Ricardo town instead of nearby Liloan port considering the former’s proximity to Surigao.
The route is being serviced by Montenegro Shipping Lines Inc. using a roll-on roll-off vessel, which makes four round trips daily.
Sea travel from San Ricardo to Lipata port in Surigao del Norte takes an hour, way shorter compared to more than three hours of travel time through Liloan port.
San Ricardo is about 40 kilometers away from Liloan town, traversing a paved road.
Although Benit port is closer to Surigao, some motorists prefer to take the Liloan port despite irregular trips, considering the difficulty in maneuvering along the saddle road in Pintuyan town.
The road steep incline and blind curves besides deep cliff make the road section the most dangerous in Eastern Visayas. (PR)