I’ve dared to ride solo going to Bicol four times so far and I found myself gearing up for the fifth one that early July morning. As usual, I plan to take the Maharlika Highway from Laguna to Albay. Aside from the usual potholes and roadworks, it is a relatively safe route to take even for a newbie. Perhaps one hazard that makes these roads more dangerous are the railroad crossings. On this journey, I will focus on these crossings so you’ll know where they are.
Just how many are there? Let’s count ‘em!
1. San Pablo City Crossing
The RR Crossing is located at KM post 82, two kms after SM San Pablo. It is perpendicular to the road so it’s fairly easy to cross but since it is elevated a few inches off the road, you really have to slow down. Anyway, you wouldn’t really be going too fast before the crossing because it is in a commercialized area. Besides, the ashpalted road before and after the tracks is in bad condition that really makes you focus more on where you’re going.
In fact, when I crossed the tracks, I didn’t even notice the train approaching. It hasn’t even been a minute since I crossed the tracks when the train barrelled through the intersection. No wonder we’ve had so many accidents on the PNR tracks!
2. Lalig, Quezon Crossing
After another 10 kms is the Lalig RR Crossing at KM post 92. It is 1km away from Hacienda Escudero just after the Quezon Province boundary arch. There are warning signs in place and the road is in good condition so it’s fairly easy to cross.
3. Cadelaria Crossing
This is perhaps the most dangerous crossing you would encounter. The reason is obvious – it cuts through the road at an angle. What’s the big deal? We’ll, nothing if you’re on four wheels. But to a motorcycle, a slippery metal raised 2-3 inches off the road is potentially dangerous (especially at this angle).
This is located at KM 105 just after Puregold Candelaria. There are warning signs in place so please pay attention. Try to cross the tracks as perpendicular as you can.
You can avoid this through the Candelaria bypass road (KM 104) which is 7.5 kms of cemented spacious road (1.5 kms longer than the normal route). You can avoid the dangerous crossing in the town proper but you still have to make a railroad crossing some 6.3 kms into the bypass road. At least it is a fairly easy crossing.
4-7. The 1-3 RR Combo of Gumaca
Just a kilometer away from the Gumaca Fish (arrow) and waiting after a blind curve is this crossing. I flew over these tracks the first time I crossed it and almost lost control. There are warning signs but it’s placed on the inside of the turn and after the curve so you won’t see it right away.
The town proper of Gumaca is “infested” with 3 crossings 1 km apart from each other. The three are almost identical with their condition: cuts the road at a slight angle, tracks are elevated a few inches the road, and road condition is very poor. It’s in the town proper so traffic builds up so you won’t have to worry about your speed.
8. Calauag Crossing
Some 2 kms away from Calauag proper is another crossing coming off a turn. It’s not smooth sailing over the tracks so you must slow down. This is at KM 232.
9. Naga Crossing
There isn’t another RR crossing until Naga City (KM 430+). There are different routes you can take but you would still need to cross the tracks at least once. Don’t worry the tracks are relatively easy to cross.
10. Baao Crossing
11 and 12. Bato Crossings
The tracks are barely there. If not for the warning signs, you won’t even know it’s there because it is levelled to the open ashpalted road. If you don’t notice the signs, chances are, you would be going fast over the tracks. You should be OK as long as you don’t panic.