The Department of Public Works and Highways wanted it to close once.
It was due to the difficulty of having it rehabilitated that the once main road to the city of Baguio took a much downplayed role as the other routes take precedence.
But 33 years later, the Kennon Road, or the Benguet Road, may get the lifeblood it needs and retake its lead role as the prime route to the city.
This after the Senate this week approved on third and final reading House Bill 6491 seeking for “the total rehabilitation and maintenance of the Kennon Road to make it an all-weather road.
The bill primarily authored by Baguio Rep. Mark Go wants the “Gateway to Baguio” rehabilitated as it “has proven to an unsafe route with numerous accidents brought by landslides especially during rainy season.”
In a release, the congressman said: “Safety and convenience to commuters are the main considerations of Rep. Mark Go in pushing for the completion of this long overdue project.”
Go added that the road should be passable at all times.
He said: “Redundant, limited, and inefficient repair has made the use of the road irregular with motorists never knowing when it is safe for passage.”
This bill directs the DPWH to fully rehabilitate and continuously maintain Kennon Road from Camps 1 to 6 in Tuba, Benguet and at Camps 7 and 8 in Baguio.
HB6491 needs to be ratified by the House of Representatives before it will be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
Kennon Road is a most historic road that actually led to the development of Baguio and become the country’s summer capital.
Built by a crew of Filipinos and workers from Japan and China under the direction of American soldier Col. Lyman Kennon, the 37-kilometer road opened the doors of Baguio and Benguet to Manila and other parts of the country.
It was the main road to the city even with the construction of the Marcos Highway on the western portion in 1975 and the Naguilian Road in the northwest portion of Baguio.
But the July 16, 1990 earthquake damaged many parts of the scenic road which has the Lion’s Head at Camp 6 as one of its main attractions.
Although still used mostly by commuters using their own vehicle because it is the shorter route, the road is usually closed during the rainy season and especially at night due to rock slides. In 2014, a Toyota Fortuner was crushed when a giant boulder came tumbling from the mountain.
In 1998, then DPWH Secretary Gregorio Vigilar proposed to have it closed because of the difficulty of rehabilitating it which angered then Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara who said that he will fight it out.