Skid Marks

New road projects to ease traffic, speed up travel

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At the recent STV Auto Focus Industry Forum, various heads of car companies gave a brief overview of how their respective car companies were performing as well as an indication of the industry’s future, trends and general state of health. Despite the Fukushima incident in Japan where a variety of car companies have been affected, that area being a major manufacturing hub of OE parts suppliers for the different Japanese car companies, the prospect remain positive, and if in fact, having created a greater demand for cars in the country.

But what caught my ear was Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Cristino Panlilio’s discourse. When asked what the government was doing to help improve the overall current state of the industry, Panlilio stated that directly, aside from more tax holidays for car companies which decide to invest further in the local labor force and build more facilities, the Aquino administration, through the Public-Private Partnership Initiative, more roads critical to development, decongesting traffic and speeding up overall travel are key areas of improvement seen from the construction of these roads. Until the end of the Aquino administration, P-Noy has prepared the following road projects, mostly in the Metro Manila/NCR/Calabarzon region to speed up economic growth and development. These roads are:

• C-5/FTI/NAIA/Skyway Connector

• C-6 Expressway (Global City Link) – South Section

• CALA Expressway-Laguna Side Section (14.3 Km)

• Calamba-Los Baños Expressway

• Central Luzon Expressway (CLEX)-Phase II, Cabanatuan-San Jose

• R-7 Expressway

• NLEX-SLEX Link

The first of these roads to be constructed are the Cavite-Laguna, or CALA, Expressway, a six-lane 27.5-kilometer road (Cavite side) costing $262 million, which will provide vital access between various economic zones in the Cavite province and the NAIA International Airport Complex, the Ports of Manila and Batangas and will contribute to the economic development and decongestion of traffic along Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite. It will be implemented by the DPWH from May 2012 to December 2015. I can barely wait to try this one out!

Another road coming very soon is the C-5/FTI/NAIA Link Expressway and Skyway Connector, a four-lane 4.9 kilometer road that will link the Skyway and the Manila-Cavite Coastal Expressway and provide access to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 1, 2, and 3 as well as the Cavite Economic Zone at an estimated cost US$262.22 million. Construction timetable is from 2012 to 2014 with the DPWH as implementing agency. I often pass through this area, fronting NAIA3 and the new Resorts World Development to access Cavite, and even going to the SM MOA/Reclamation Area because it’s faster, has better roads and is more direct. The traffic jam at the opening of the Villamor Airbase up until Andrews Avenue is just plain crazy though and is highly unpredictable. Sometimes it takes all of three minutes to clear this area and exit the NAIA3 Complex, and sometimes as much as 45 minutes to get out of this area. A proper link road that is wide enough to ferry all the cars going to the South should improve travel time immensely.

The last road mentioned that is crucial is the long-delayed Link Road which will link the SLEX to NLEX. You can imagine how many trucks will be removed from Osmeña Highway, Quirino Ave., Gov. Forbes/Lacson Ave. and Rizal Ave., to name a few tight and very busy roads that currently connect NLEX to SLEX. An unsolicited bid has already been submitted by the Manila North Tollways Corporation and the DPWH is currently undergoing evaluation of the said project. I hope this project is launched very soon.

This will have a ripple effect in other sectors of our economy. As traffic situation improves, business will improve because logistics will also improve. A few years back, in a privileged meeting with a former government official, he told me that the biggest contributing factor for a lot of logistics companies transporting foodstuff from the province to Metro Manila was “kotong” from unscrupulous policemen and other government officials who set up unauthorized checkpoints along the mostly two-lane national highway to stop, harass and extort from the drivers and relievers of delivery trucks. A super highway will eliminate the need for such checkpoints and speed up traffic flow.

Real estate prices should also improve as people become more open to live further outside of Metro Manila because traffic has improved, decongesting the metropolis further. With the SLEX fully built up and thank to the Skyway, more and more people I know are moving as far out as Santa Rosa, Laguna, for the fresh air and quieter environment, indeed a better place to raise children, free from all forms of pollution and where living standards are significantly cheaper.

E-email the author at botchilah@yahoo.com.

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