MNTC keen on joining CL expressway bidding

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TOLL road operator Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) is interested in participating in the bidding for the P29-billion Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEx).

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CLLEx is a proposed toll road that will connect the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to the proposed North Luzon East Expressway (TPLEX) in Cabanatuan toward San Jose City in Nueva Ecija.

“We are waiting for CLLEx Phase 1, which will be constructed by the government with funding from Japan. The second phase will be PPP [the government’s public-private partnership program]. The winning bidder will operate the two,” MNTC president Rodrigo Franco told reporters.

The first phase of the proposed expressway, which covers 30 kilometers from the Luisita Interchange of SCTEX and ends in Cabanatuan, will be funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The second phase, which will connect Cabanatuan to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija, will be implemented under the PPP program, including the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the entire 53 kilometers of CLLEx.

“CLLEx Phase 2 is connected to SCTEX, while Plaridel is connected to the Balagtas bypass. The government is also studying the Plaridel bypass, which will be auctioned off under PPP. The Plaridel bypass is still under study by PPP,” Franco said.

“Since both are in the north, MNTC will be keen to participate in these projects. Both are naturally expansions of NLEX and SCTEX, that is why we are interested,” Franco said.

The Plaridel bypass road is an arterial road of 24.61 km that will link the NLEX in Balagtas, Bulacan with the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway, also called Maharlika Highway in San Rafael, Bulacan.

It will bypass the town proper of Plaridel and urban areas of Pulilan and Baliuag along the existing Maharlika Highway, thus alleviating the perennial traffic congestion in the core urban areas along Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway road section from Plaridel to San Rafael, Bulacan.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said CLLEx will serve as an important east-west link for a high standard highway network within a 200-kilometer radius from Metro Manila.

Phase 1 of CLLEx will cost P14.93 billion and will have five interchanges, seven bridges with a length of 1,886 meters each, and 38 overpass/underpass constructions.

Phase 2, or the Cabanatuan-San Jose, Nueva Ecija development, will cost P14.20 billion. It involves the construction of a 35.7-kilometer two-lane expressway that will connect Cabanatuan City and San Jose City.

The project will be financed via official development assistance (ODA) while the O&M contract will be bid out under the PPP structure.

When completed, the expressway will support the development of regional urban centers in Central Luzon and the Pacific Ocean coastal areas in order to decrease over-concentration of socio-economic activities in Metro Manila, according to the DPWH.

Target completion for Phase 1 of the project is July 2017.

The draft of the Terms of Reference (TOR) was forwarded to JICA for review and comments on March 13, 2015 for the second phase of this project.

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