BUILD, BUILD, BUILD. Trillions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects like expressways, railways, airports and seaports, will make travel and transport of goods faster during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte through its Build, Build, Build program. Officials behind the projects are Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, among others. The private sector like Manny Pangilinan and San Miguel’s Ramon Ang is partnering with government in many projects.
By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE and ALFRED GABOT
PASAY CITY (PhilAmPress) – Manila to Baguio in less than three hours? Manila to La Union in three hours instead of seven hours? La Union to Camarines Sur in eight hours instead of 18 hours? Buendia in Makati City to Balintawak in Quezon City in 15 to 20 minutes instead of two hours?
Yes, all those quick travel time will soon be a possibility once various infrastructure projects will be completed.
This was assured by Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar as he unveiled at a forum an ambitious P107-billion traffic decongestion program that aims to address the worsening traffic problem in the country, which is costing the economy P2.4 billion a day.
Villar said one project under the program is the Luzon Spine Expressway Network that will connect 18 major expressways throughout the country and decongest the 24-kilometer EDSA.
“As of today, our existing expressway network is 385 kilometers long. By the end of this administration, we will have almost doubled this expressway network to 655 kilometers,” Villar said at a forum.
Villar said when the ambitious projects are finished, travel time to various areas of the country would be significantly reduced.
“Today, to go from Metro Manila to La Union will take you almost seven hours. When this is finished it will be three hours and 10 minutes,” he said.
Travel from North (La Union) to South (Camarines Sur) will likewise be reduced to eight hours from nineteen at present once the Luzon Spine is completed, Villar added.
The DPWH chief said the government is now working on the alignment of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) to the Rosario, La Union exit. At present, the town of Binalonan in Pangasinan is the farthest point of TPLEX which can be reached in two hours and a half from Balintawak.
“Once this is finished, you can go from Manila to Baguio in less than three hours and after we’ve done the Rosario exit, we will continue the TPLEX to La Union and we will cross to Ilocos Sur,” Villar said at the World Trade Center Manila forum.
The Rosario exit will be finished by next year, he said.
Another project is the Plaridel Bypass Road that will ease traffic in the province of Bulacan.
“This is also a major project that we are targeting to finish later this year. This year we have 200 bypass roads in many provinces that we will be constructing over the next few years,” Villar said.
Another project is the North Harbor Link which would enable trucks coming from the country’s ports to go straight to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
“They can go straight to NLEX in about 10 minutes. This is a very significant project, the NLEX Harborlink. It will also decongest EDSA because trucks don’t have to go to EDSA and other roads in Manila. We can expect that later this year or early next year,” Villar said.
Manila Skyway Stage 3, meanwhile, will connect the South Luzon Expressway and then straight to Balintawak.
“The result of this is that it will reduce traffic time from Buendia to Balintawak from two hours to about 15 to 20 minutes. This, we are targeting to finish by late next year,” Villar said.
Earlier it was learned that the TPLEX might be extended up to Laoag City and the South Luzon Expressway up to Quezon province and then to Sorsogon.
Another expressway project is the Northeast Luzon Expressway from Quezon City to Cabanatuan City and later all the way to the Cagayan Valley.