Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC), the toll-operating arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), is investing at least P1.5 billion for the upgrade and modernization of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
MNTC said the planned improvements should bring the highway’s features at par with world-class standards.
The entire modernization program will take three years, but improvements shall be seen as early as March, according to Rodrigo E. Franco, president and chief executive officer of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), MNTC’s parent company.
“While the rehabilitation and modernization of SCTEX will take three years to complete, motorists will already experience the improvements by Holy Week this year,” Franco said.
MNTC, builder and concessionaire of the 93-kilometer NLEX, was awarded the contract to manage, operate, and maintain SCTEX late last year by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the government agency that constructed the expressway.
Under the contract, MNTC will be responsible for the management, toll collection, traffic safety and security, toll road and facilities maintenance, including greening and landscaping, public relations, and marketing of SCTEX until 2043.
SCTEX is linked to the northern end of also MNTC-operated North Luzon Expressway in Sta. Ines, Mabalacat, Pampanga.
“Aside from integrating the two toll ways seamlessly, we have lined up a lot of enhancement works for SCTEX,” Franco pointed out.
“These include pavement works, construction of new facilities, and the improvement of the toll collection and communications systems.”
MNTC added it is also preparing SCTEX for the expected vehicle surge during the Hold Week.
The toll operator said closed-circuit televisions would be installed along the SCTEX to ensure motorists’ safety.
Additional lights and reflectorized strips are also being mounted to guide motorists during the night.
To further motorists’ comfort, two additional restrooms will be constructed at the SCTEX’s Dolores Exit and Luisita Interchange, according to the firm.
Road signs that provide motorists with useful and updated traffic information will be put up along the expressway, as well.
NLEX’s modern toll collection system, which makes use of dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) tags, and contact-less and magnetic cards, will be made available to SCTEX, once the integration of the two expressways is completed. Meanwhile, a three-year asphalt overlay project covering the entire 94-kilometer length of the expressway would eventually make the SCTEX’s pavement as smooth as that of the NLEX, the companies said.
Come Holy Week, some physical barriers currently standing between the two toll ways will be removed, according to the officials.
Motorists will no longer need to stop at Dau and Mabalacat, as these will be converted into pass-through lanes.
“With all the planned improvements for SCTEX, motorists will soon experience a seamless NLEX-SCTEX connection,” Franco said.