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It may just be a spanking new elevated highway that San Miguel Corp. (SMC) opened early this month, but the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 Project or the Skyway 3 represents so many things for the country’s most diversified conglomerate.

Roads are the arteries through which the economy pulses linking workers to jobs, producers to markets, students to school, and even the sick to hospitals and the 18.83-kilometer elevated Skyway 3 is no different.

SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang explained during the highway’s opening last Jan. 14, that Skyway 3 is set to provide motorists another option to bypass the already congested Edsa, C-5, and other major and smaller roads around Metro Manila. “This will greatly contribute to decongesting Metro Manila traffic. With the full opening of all seven lanes, Skyway 3 can handle 200,000 vehicles per day or half of the volume of Edsa.”

Running from Buendia in Makati City to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City, the Skyway 3 not only links the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway but also other key parts of Metro Manila, reducing travel time thanks to its several on and off ramps: (northbound) Buendia entry point, Quezon Avenue entry point and Balintawak exit point, and on the opposite (Southbound), Buendia exit point, Plaza Dilao entry point, Quezon Avenue exit point, and Balintawak entry point.

Built and financed by SMC, the Skyway 3 was planned during the Arroyo administration and formally started during the Aquino administration in 2014. However, it faced a myriad of obstacles—both political and engineering—including familiar issues such as right-of-way.

During the opening ceremony, Ang thanked the Duterte administration and various agencies including the Department of Public Works and Highways, under Sec. Mark Villar, for their significant roles in settling right-of-way issues that delayed the massive infrastructure project for years. “This is a game-changer for our economy, especially now that we are still dealing with the pandemic. By providing seamless access between north and south, we also unlock the true potential of the provinces around Metro Manila.”

Ang explained that the Skyway 3 is an engineering marvel: aside from currently being the longest elevated highway, it features several double-decker portions—those going north will use the lower deck while those going south will use the upper deck. A first in the Philippines, these double decker engineering solutions located from Plaza Dilao to Tomas Claudio bridge in Pandacan, Manila; Araneta before Quezon Avenue; and Roosevelt at Sgt. Rivera Street was conceptualized and implemented to address space constraints. “Proof of the world-class skills and talent of our Filipino engineers and construction personnel,” attested Ang.

He also added that the benefits from this elevated highway “balance against its environmental impacts” explaining that apart from SMC funding the rebuilding of the 40-meter San Juan Bridge in San Juan City, the 24-meter Concordia Bridge in Paco Manila, and the 56.76-meter Sevilla Bridge, the waters around these bridges were dredged and cleaned.

Moreover, the construction also provided direct employment to around 6,000 workers while indirectly providing jobs to around 10,000-12,000 more. “Together, we are building the foundation for future economic growth that’s inclusive and sustainable,” Ang said.

SMC, which operates the South Luzon Expressway, Metro Manila Skyway, Naia Expressway, Star Tollway, and Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union Expressway, is also set to build the 19.4-km Pasig River Expressway project, a six-lane elevated toll road along the banks of the Pasig River, linking R-10 in Manila, Edsa, and C5 and decongesting Rizal, Cainta, and Marikina by 2023.

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