By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad and Julie M. Aurelio
North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) Corp., a unit of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), inaugurated the Caloocan-España segment of the 8-kilometer (km) toll road—designed to cut travel time between Caloocan and España to about five minutes—on Monday and targets to open the entire NLEx Connector in June.
J. Luigi Bautista, NLEx Corp. president and general manager, told reporters on Monday they were hoping to secure all the right-of-way (ROW) requirement of the remaining segment—España to Sta. Mesa—of the expressway by next month to proceed with the construction.
“Provided that we get all the right of way from DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highway), we think they will be able to complete it by end of June,” he said.
About 20 percent of the ROW requirement has yet to be settled. This portion is 42-percent complete in terms of construction, Bautista said.
President Marcos himself urged the government and the private sector to do their best to complete high impact road infrastructure on schedule as this will translate to faster mobility and transactions and higher economic productivity for the country.
”I call upon the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and NLEx Corp. to work closely and effectively in accomplishing our noble objectives in improving the road infrastructure on this side of the country. Try very hard, as we all do, to stay within the target time frame—although your success rate in this regard is exemplary. Avoid unnecessary delays and finish the project as scheduled, so that the Filipino people will be able to reap the benefits as soon as possible,” Mr. Marcos said during the inauguration.
He stressed that high-impact infrastructure improvements such as highly interconnected road networks have the positive effect of “speeding up mobility and transactions and spurring economic productivity.”
With the inauguration of the first segment, Bautista said the Toll Regulatory Board was set to meet on Tuesday to discuss “the permit to allow us to open.”
The NLEx official expects this permit to be issued this week so motorists can use the toll road immediately.
The Caloocan-España portion of the P23-billion NLEx Connector is expected to alleviate the traffic along España Boulevard, Abad Santos Avenue, Rizal Avenue and Larson Avenue.
NLEx Connector will link NLEX with the South Luzon Expressway.
“The NLEx Connector is expected to spur economic development as it eases Metro Manila’s traffic congestion, increases productivity, improves logistics and boosts communities. We continue to focus on our goal of delivering infrastructure that will facilitate a greater connection between the north and the south,” MPTC chair Manuel Pangilinan said.
With the NLEx Connector nearing completion, the MPTC previously asked the DPWH to grant them the contract to build the infrastructure linking the second segment of the tollway and Plaza Dilao segment of San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) Skyway to speed up the construction.
But Bautista said the government had decided to let SMC build the 1.2-km interconnection structure.
NLEx Connector is a public-private partnership project between NLEx Corp. and DPWH and is designed to accommodate 35,000 vehicles daily.