Ayala still keen on completing toll road projectBy Doris C. Dumlao |Philippine Daily Inquirer
Keen on completing the 4-kilometer arterial road Daang Hari by next year, conglomerate Ayala Corp. has proposed measures to address concerns raised by the San Miguel/Citra group on the road linkage with the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx).
“We are working with DPWH and relevant parties to get all the necessary agreements so that we can go full blast construction once the rainy season ends,” Ayala Corp. managing director Eric Francia said in an e-mail to the Inquirer.
The Ayala group is still optimistic on the resolution of pending issues to be able to complete the Daang Hari project. “Fighting target is third quarter 2014 completion,” Francia said.
The Ayala group needs to seal a tripartite agreement with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and SLEx concessionaire South Luzon Tollroad Corp. (SLTC), which is controlled by the Citra/San Miguel consortium, to establish the road linkage with SLEx. But SLTC was critical of the new design proposed for the linkage, fearing this would worsen traffic conditions in its jurisdiction, industry sources said. Separately, the sources said SLTC was concerned over plans to cut or ball 283 trees in its concession area along Susana Heights as this might draw flak from environmentalist groups.
Other industry sources privy to the matter said Ayala had presented a program to SLTC to address the latter’s concerns on the prospective impact on traffic flow at SLEx and likewise taking into account the construction of a fifth lane planned for the future expansion of SLEx.
The proposal includes the extension both sides of one of a proposed tunnel or under-crossing to accommodate SLEx’s future fifth lane as well as the construction of an intermediate retaining wall and grade separation. The grade separation, from the point of view of Ayala, will cause less traffic disturbance during implementation as well as eat up a shorter construction duration.
Ayala is also proposing the setting up of a new Susana Heights Toll Plaza to bypass the existing booths at Susana Heights. It has also committed to undertake a traffic management program to minimize the inconvenience to SLEx users during construction.
On the plan to cut trees along Susana Heights within the SLEx concession, documents showed that the DPHW had obtained clearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to proceed with the extraction last July 23 and this permit was valid for 90 days. The permit was given on several conditions, including the conduct of meetings or public consultations with concerned stakeholders, “to discuss the importance of the project, removal of the trees affected, replacement of trees to be removed/cut and other related concerns.”
Daang Hari is a four-kilometer major arterial road that will connect Cavite’s rapidly growing towns to Metro Manila via SLEx. Ayala and San Miguel/Citra groups likewise battled for the right to undertake this project—the first under the public-private partnership program of Pres. Aquino—at end-2011.
At present, 30 percent of the tollroad is completed, bulk of which was done prior to the government’s auction of the project to a private sector concessionaire.