MPIC plans next major expansion of NLEx
Infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. is planning the next major expansion phase for the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), a busy tollroad that links Metro Manila to provinces in Central Luzon.
Rodrigo Franco, CEO of Metro Pacific subsidiary Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), said in a recent interview that the company was reviving a plan to extend the NLEx to Bataan, northwest of Manila.
“We are studying whether it’s timely to pursue the construction of that project,” said Franco, who called the project the “Phase 3” of NLEx. He said it would be built under their existing concession.
Franco said NLEx Phase 3 would cost over P20 billion and would extend the NLEx, which runs from Manila to Pampanga, by another 40 kilometres to Dinalupihan, a first class municipality in Bataan.
Franco said the company was planning to submit the NLEx Phase 3 proposal to the Toll Regulatory Board by the second half of 2019.
In pursuing the extension of NLEx, Franco pointed to congestion in Pampanga, which is benefiting from the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program via the expansion of its international airport and a new railway connection to Manila.
“The areas in San Fernando and Angeles are reaching urban stage,” Franco said. “If you are going to Bataan, you may need to bypass already San Fernando and those areas.”
The NLEx Phase 3 falls under what Franco considers interurban projects, which connect major population centers to less developed areas. These projects tend to move faster in terms of implementation than so-called inner-city projects, he added.
“If it’s a project within Metro Manila, that involves a lot more complexity because you are building over crowded areas,” he said.
The company’s inner city projects include the Metro Manila connector road, which had its ground breaking ceremony last March after years of delays, and a P92-billion unsolicited offer called the NLEx-Cavitex Port Expressway Link, which remains under evaluation by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Apart from NLEx and the Cavite Expressway, MPTC also operates the 94-km Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway. Its other major projects are the Cavite Laguna Expressway, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway and the proposed Cavite-Tagaytay Batangas Expressway.
Outside the Philippines, MPTC has invested in tollroads in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Franco said the company remained keen on expanding its footprint in Southeast Asia. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS