SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union (PhilAmPress) — Extend the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLex) up to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.
The call was made by congressmen from the Ilocos region as they asked the Department of Public Works and Highways the extension of TPLEx up to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.
This as the DPWH and its contractors drew flak after cutting down centuries-old acacia trees lining up the old MacArthur national highway from Binalonan, Pangasinan, the hometown of famous Filipino writer, pioneer labor union organizer and minority rights activist in the United States Carlos S. Bulosan, to give to what they said as expansion of the highway.
Residents of Binalonan and the other towns going to La Union and Baguio City have opposed the cutting down of the old acacia trees together with members of the Sangguiang Panlalawigan but their protests and appeal went to jaded ears.
It was learned that a feasibility study for the extension is now being conducted and would be ready once the last phase of TPLEx from Urdaneta City up to Rosario town in La Union is completed next year.
TPLEX starts in Tarlac City at the end point of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac expressway (SCTex) and now ends in Urdaneta City a few meters from the boundary with Binalonan town, making travel to Pangasinan faster to two hours to two hours and a half from three hours and a half to four hours from Manila.
The TPLex has also made the transport of goods easier and boosted tourism in Pangasinan and the Ilocos region up to Baguio City and the Mountain Provinces.
Meanwhile, two exits of the TPLEx have been proposed to prevent traffic congestion and at the same time spur economic development in La Union as it will ease the flow of traffic once this toll highway is completed next year.
The proposal was aired by Mario Ortega, the former executive assistant of Gov. Manuel Ortega who resigned on Dec. 8 to file as substitute candidate for governor, before the provincial board of La Union. He asked the board to pass a resolution requesting that there should be one TPLEx exit before the town proper of Rosario going to Baguio and the Cordillera, and the other one after the town going directly to the national highway in La Union.
The latter exit, he said, can also be accessed by motorists going to Dagupan and Lingayen, Pangasinan.
“I have a chance to talk to the provincial board members about the matter (TPLEx exit points) and my position is for our benefit in La Union and not to support the proposals of others,” Mario said.
Ortega said the provincial board of La Union also passed a resolution earlier supporting the proposal of former Pangasinan Rep. Mark Cojuangco to modify the TPLEx’s exit plan for it to avoid traffic and the thickly populated areas and agricultural lands in Sison and San Fabian towns in Pangasinan.
“Traffic is indeed a very big problem and it was already experienced in Urdaneta City where vehicles are clogging in the area because there is only one exit point. Motorists coming from TPLEx are faster and traffic will eventually clog. But if it there are two exits in La Union, then traffic will not be that worse,” Ortega said.
He said that aside from solving the traffic, there will also be economic development in-between the two exit points in La Union because the area would be an ideal site for industries because of its accessibility.
Ortega also said that the opening of TPLEx will boost the tourism industry in La Union and in the other provinces in the Ilocos region because delivery of goods and services will then be faster.