LIGHTING THE SAN JUANICO BRIDGE. The P80 million San Juanico Bridge lighting project is expected to draw tourists. The project will be bid out before the end of 2018 and up for completion next year. (Photo courtesy of Aqua Momentum) 

TACLOBAN CITY -- The bidding for the San Juanico Bridge lighting project has been delayed as the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) extensively reviews its technical details.

The April 2019 original completion target is no longer attainable, given the many technical considerations for the lighting project but bidding will proceed within the year, said Department of Tourism Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes.

“TIEZA would really want to come up with terms of reference. There’s no room for mistakes since this is one-time big project. They want it to be done in the best way possible,” Tiopes told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday.

A big challenge is finding the right company to join the bidding since this is the first bridge lighting project in the country, said Tiopes.

“Interested bidders have different profiles and they have different ideas. The technical team is still studying the best lights that will be used. It takes a lot of time to come up with specific cost and design,” she added.

The official is confident that the project will proceed next year with the availability of PHP80 million funds. Completion is within 2019, said Tiopes. TIEZA will finance the bridge-lighting project.

Under the initial proposal of local governments, the project will use light-emitting diodes, one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies.

It was proposed that there would be a 10-minute light show for six times nightly that may include water, light, and laser aspects. Every night, there would be six-hour park mode or static mode lights with subtle movement of lights.

Just like other shows, its colors will be in support of various events throughout the year, the lighting will also be programmed to celebrate special occasions.

Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan had shared the idea of illuminating the iconic bridge to Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez, Regional Development Council chairperson, in an effort to add vibrancy and interest to nigh time tourism.

At present, tourists can enjoy daytime activities at the San Juanico Bridge through the tour packages offered by private operator, Aqua Momentum.

The bridge’s transformation would be a new attraction under the Spark Samar, a branding campaign initially launched in 2015.

Once called the Marcos Bridge, the San Juanico Bridge was built in August 1969 over the San Juanico Strait, the narrowest navigational strait in the world that separates Samar and Leyte Islands, and was completed in December 1972.

The bridge that spans 2.162 kilometer was built as part of the Pan-Philippine Highway now called the Maharlika Highway, a network of roads, bridges, and sea routes that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao. (PNA)