TOP conglomerates and the government on Wednesday finally signed a deal to build a “Grand Central Station” linking three railway lines, resolving their differences to enable the project to be completed by April 2019.
The memorandum of agreement was signed by SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the Universal LRT Corp. unit of San Miguel Corp., Light Rail Manila Corp. and North Triangle Depot Commercial Corp., as well as the Department of
Transportation (DOTr), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Light Rail Transit Authority.
Construction of the P2.8-billion, 13,700-square-meter common station that will link the LRT-1, MRT-3 and the future MRT-7 will begin in December.
“We are hoping to finish this project in April 2019, knowing that the different steps have to come into play, DOTr spokeswoman Cherrie Mercado told reporters.
The common station will have three components: Area A where the platform and concourse for LRT-1 and MRT-3 will be located; Area B which will consist of two common concourses connecting Area A and Area C; and Area C, the platform and concourse of MRT-7.
The portion of Area A for LRT-1 will be operated, maintained and developed by Light Rail Manila, a joint venture between Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
DOTr will operate and maintain the portion for MRT-3. Ayala will operate, maintain, and develop Area B, while San Miguel will be responsible for Area C.
SM Prime and Ayala’s Trinoma mall will have naming rights for the common station, which will be located between the SM North EDSA and Trinoma malls.
The DPWH will finance and build an underpass on EDSA, in the area where the common station will be built.
“The passengers’ comfort is our priority and when we got all the principal stakeholders together, we asked them to make this their primary consideration before their business interests,” Mercado said.
On July 30, 2014, during the previous Aquino administration, SM Prime asked the Supreme Court to stop a deal to transfer the common station to the front of Ayala’s Trinoma. SM Prime secured a deal during the Arroyo administration in 2009 to build the common station in front of SM North EDSA.
SM Prime, DOTr and the Light Rail Transit Authority will file a joint manifestation with the Supreme Court advising it of the agreement, thus allowing the construction of the project. The parties will seek the dismissal of the court case after the detailed designs are completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.
On Monday, Quezon City lawmakers sought to defer the signing of the new deal, claiming they were not consulted. Mercado said they would be consulted once the DOTr gets the detailed engineering design for the common station.