Bridging the Gap
Roads and bridges in Iloilo during the American rule
In the last decades of the Spanish rule, there were probably no better roads found in the Philippine Islands outside of Manila than in the Province of Iloilo, but from lack of attention, they had fallen into a state of deterioration. Consideration that the prosperity of the City and Province was also greatly dependent upon the facilities for transportation and communication, the American administration spent substantial amounts for road improvements in the province.
During the first months of 1902, the Provincial Board, utilizing the loan of P94,000 granted by the Philippine Commission, undertook the construction and repair of the principal roads of the Province, with the dual purpose of providing good roads and of furnishing work to the common people. The project was put under the immediate responsibility of the Provincial Supervisor. However, the work was stopped in the latter month due to the appearance of cholera. The government had to re-channel the funds in order to combat this urgent epidemic. Thus, only the road from Jaro to Sta. Barbara was completed (Report of the Governor of the Province of Iloilo, 1905).
In 1904, 36 kms. of roads from the town of Iloilo to the interior sections were reported repaired. This placed the provincial capitol in an easier communication with the more proximate towns of the Province. Later, repaired roads reached roads reached as far as Guimbal to the south, Banate to the north and Janiuay to the inland interior, with a cost of P82,73 (Ibid). Repairs were also made on the bridges in Jaro and Mandurriao, and on the road between Iloilo and La Paz, and from Jaro to Pavia, and that of Leganes to Zarraga.
In 1907, many improvements were made. A number of concrete and wooden bridges and culverts were constructed and facilitated communication among many towns. Many roads were reconstructed, among them: the Hibao-an road that joined the municipalities of Mandurriao and San Miguel. The following year, the Forbes Bridge connecting Iloilo with La Paz on the way to Jaro was constructed during the administration of Ruperto Montinola as Governor Iloilo. The concrete structure replaced the temporary structure made of wood and bamboo used during the Spanish period. The bridge was named in honor of the American Governor-General, W.Cameron Forbes.
Street projects continued progressively all throughout the 1920s, especially in the town of Iloilo. They were the construction of the Baluarte and Arroyo streets, extension of Delgado Street to Valeria and from Fuentes and Jalandoni streets up to the present-day U.P. in the Visayas. Quezon and Mabini streets were asphalted while their sidewalks were also constructed. More significant was the installation of streetlights all throughout the city in 1921. in 1926, the widening of important streets, like General Luna, J.M. Basa and Ledesma was started. In 1927, an improved street, Valeria-Ledesma (formerly known as Weyler) was inaugurated (David 1937).
In the early 1930s, many construction projects were accomplished. These were the 330 meters Guimbal bridge, reputed to be the longest in Panay at that time and even up to the present; Tigbauan concrete bridge, Halawud (Jalaur) bridge, Tiolas River bridge, Tigum River bridge, and the Miag-ao River bridge. Thus, by 1935, Iloilo Province maintained a total of 404.8 kms. of first class and 111 kms of second and third class roads. Of these, 36.5 kms were asphalt-paved and 2 ms. were concrete-paved. (Ibid)