NLEX-SLEX CONNECTOR ROAD: A Link to Progress
VOL. 1 NO.1 DECEMBER 2018
BY: CHRISTIAN FRANCIS ANTONIO
It can be said that roads and transportation are the backbone of economic progress. Developing countries benefit greatly from new road infrastructure programs through improved access to businesses and facilities, and decreased transportation costs. Enter Build Build Build (BBB), the Duterte Administration's priority infrastructure program that is part of Dutertenomics. The government wants to achieve the golden age of infrastructure in the Philippines by prioritizing the construction of new roads. railway systems, bridges, and airports. The project aims to help the country achieve economic growth by drawing in foreign investors and making the transportation of workforce and commodities more efficient. As of press time, the project provided 100,000 jobs according to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar.
One of the biggest and most expensive projects of the Build Build Build program is the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road. This eight-kilometer, four-lane elevated toll road is envisioned to link the North Luzon Expressway with the South Luzon Expressway, minimizing the travel time from north to south and vice versa. The P23.3 billion road project will connect the C-3 Interchange in Caloocan City at the end of NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 to PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila toward the Skyway Stage 3. Upon completion, it is expected to reduce the travel time between NLEX and SLEX from two hours to just 20 minutes. Travelers can now drive from Clark, Pampanga, to Calamba, Laguna, within one hour and 40 minutes. The connector road, which mostly traverses the Philippine National Railway's track, is also anticipated to help reduce traffic congestionalong EDSA, C-5, and other major Metro Manila roads by providing an alternative route to these highways. The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 and Skyway Stage 3 are also part of the BBB program.
Aside from decongesting Metro Manila traffic, the project also aims to bring forth business growth along the road's nearby areas such as Manila, Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas. The aforementioned cities are home to a substantial number of small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). They will benefit from the faster transportation of raw materials and the delivery of end products to distributors and retail outlets. The new road network is estimated to be used by over 35,000 vehicles daily. Cargo trucks coming to and from the country's busiest ports are highly expected to benefit from the project.
NLEX Corporation, the tollways unit of Manny Pangilinan's Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) proposed the project back in 2010. After several reviews by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), it ruled on February 2015 that the project should be bid out through a Swiss Challenge. In June 2016, the NLEX Corporation finally secured the deal to build, operate, and maintain the connector road. The construction will begin in January 2019, ahead of the planned May 2019 contract. The infrastructure is expected to be completed by December 2020.
MPIC also operates the North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, and Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway. [K]