Aquino opens new Luzon tollway Monday
The 89-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), which is expected to boost business and tourism in central and northern Luzon, may be fully completed ahead of schedule by 2015, one of its stakeholders said on Sunday.
Conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) said in a statement that the initial phase of the toll road would be formally opened Monday by President Aquino through an inaugural drive-through.
The expressway is a Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX)undertaken by Private Infra Dev Corp., whose shareholders include SMC and the Consunji family’s DMCI Holdings Inc.
“In terms of construction, we are ahead of schedule. We are on track to delivering the entire length of TPLEX as early as 2015,” SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said in the statement.
From end to end, the TPLEX will traverse 17 towns and two cities (Tarlac and Urdaneta) across four provinces—Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija. Once completed, it will cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to only one hour.
“It is seen as a catalyst of growth, boosting tourism, trade and agriculture in central and northern Luzon. By the time it is complete, it would have also generated about 12,000 jobs,” the statement said.
Private Infra Dev is opening Monday the Paniqui exit, which brings to 23 km the total length of the TPLEX that is operational, according to the statement.
In October, Private Infra Dev opened the project’s 17-km Phase 1A from Tarlac City to Victoria, Pura, then Gerona, to the public.
Ahead of schedule
Currently, work on the 27-km stretch from Paniqui to Moncada in Tarlac, then Carmen in Pangasinan is in progress, including the construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct.
While this portion is slated for completion by December 2014, Private Infra Dev said that it expects to deliver as early as April next year.
By then, the two-hour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen will be cut to only 30 minutes.
“Right now, we are waiting for the completion of the acquisition of the right of way for the 13.72-km portion from the north bank of the Agno river up to Urdaneta. But our government is working on that. We are confident that we will complete this section up to Urdaneta as early as December 2014,” Ang said.
He added that the remaining 25.83-km section from Urdaneta to Rosario, La Union, will be completed the following year—a full three years ahead of the original 2018 target.
The TPLEX, one of several infrastructure projects in SMC’s portfolio and its first greenfield tollway project, is seen as a vital road project in Luzon, connecting the central and northern Luzon provinces to Manila and beyond through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway.
Upgraded to 4 lanes
Originally designed as a two-lane road, SMC decided to upgrade the project to four lanes to ensure road safety and in anticipation of future traffic growth. It can be expanded up to eight lanes in the future.
In the statement, SMC noted the modern features found in world-class tollways. These include a fleet of patrol cars and emergency assistance vehicles that can respond to motorists anywhere along the stretch within 10 minutes.
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