THE Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), operator of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), said its capital expenditures may reach P10 billion this year to finance the construction of two NLEX connector projects—Segment 9 and Segment 10—and the takeover and expansion of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
MNTC signed an agreement with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) last week for the integration of the NLEX and SCTEX.
SCTEX is a 94-kilometer four-lane expressway connecting the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac.
“We have to pay them [BCDA] P3.5 billion [upfront payment]plus P1 billion that we will spend for SCTEX. We still need to study carefully on what kind of work we need to do in SCTEX before we take over. Normally you do some improvements,” Rodrigo E. Franco, MNTC president and chief executive officer, told reporters.
“SCTEX integration is another P600 million,” he said. “If we include the P3.5 billion upfront payment, then it may reach P10 billion,” he said.
The breakdown of the P10 billion spending for this year is P5 billion for the construction of Segment 9 and 10; P3.5 billion for the upfront payment for SCTEX; and P1 billion for the SCTEX expansion plan.
In January, MNTC started the construction of the NLEX Karuhatan Valenzuela Interchange, the last major infrastructure needed to complete the 2.42-kilometer Segment 9 that will link NLEX to MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela City.
MNTC said that it has completed 80 percent of the project. It said the modern four-lane Segment 9 cost P1.59 billion and features two pedestrian foot bridges, two vehicular overpasses, and seven drainage box culverts.
Expected to be completed in March this year, Segment 9 aims to make the expressway more accessible to travelers, especially those from Metro Manila.
MNTC said that it expects to see increased economic activity between Metro Manila and Central and Northern Luzon once NLEX is linked to MacArthur Highway because it would facilitate the movement of people and goods between Central and Northern Luzon and the northern part of the metropolis, particularly the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela (CAMANAVA) area.
“The new tollway will especially be beneficial to the factories and industrial plants in CAMANAVA since it will improve transport logistics through the more efficient movement of trucks,” Franco pointed out.
Citing an example, Franco said trucks going to CAMANAVA via NLEX can take the west-bound ramp at the Smart Connect Interchange, proceed through Segment 9 and take MacArthur Highway instead of exiting at the Valenzuela Interchange and passing through the congested Maysan Road.
Trucks going to the Port Area can take the same route and pass by Monumento in Caloocan instead of exiting at Balintawak and going through traffic-heavy EDSA.
The economic benefits Segment 9 will bring are expected to increase further when Segment 10 of the NLEX Harbor Link is finished in late 2016.
Segments 9 and 10 will be linked via the NLEX Karuhatan Valenzuela Interchange. Stretching 5.65 kilometers long, Segment 10 will largely be an elevated expressway, directly linking NLEX and MacArthur Highway to Manila’s Port Area district.
Segment 10 will primarily cater to port traffic and is envisioned to significantly speed up and reduce the cost of the transport of goods from Central and Northern Luzon to the country’s premier harbors.
MNTC is projecting an average daily traffic of some 27,000 vehicles for Segment 9 during its first year of operation. This number is expected to rise sharply when Segment 10 opens, reaching 53,000 vehicles by the year 2037.