Private Infra Dev Corp. (PIDC), the all-Filipino consortium led by diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is set to soft-open the first phase of its P23.8-billion Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), the first greenfield road infrastructure project in its portfolio, on October 30.
“This marks our first foray into the construction of tollways and is a major milestone in our infrastructure master plan,” said Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer.
The company said that on Friday, the Toll Regulatory Board authorized the issuance of the Toll Operation Permit for the expressway after PIDC completed construction this month. The first phase, Section 1A, which provides a seamless connection to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway , stretches 17 kilometers from Tarlac City to Victoria, then to Gerona, Tarlac.
SMC said that this portion of the toll road, which will cut current travel time to Baguio by as much as 40 minutes, is part of a total 88.6-kilometer expressway, which is seen to accelerate growth in tourism and trade and agriculture in North Luzon. From Gerona, TPLEX will have exits in Paniqui and Moncada in Tarlac; Rosales, Urdaneta City, and Pozorrubio in Pangasinan; and Rosario, in La Union. Completion of the section up to Rosales is scheduled for middle of 2014 while the section up to La Union is scheduled for completion by 2016.
Originally designed as a two-lane road, the TPLEX proponents, led by the San Miguel Group, decided to upgrade it to four to enhance efficiency and road safety, and anticipate future growth in traffic volume. Since its diversification to infrastructure, SMC has been aggressive in pursuing much-needed road projects. In April this year, SMC won the concession to build and operate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway, which will connect the Skyway system to all three NAIA airport terminals and to the Entertainment City of PAGCOR in the City of Manila, and the Manila-Cavite Expressway.
SMC is also set to start construction of Skyway Stage 3, another major infrastructure project under the Aquino administration that will connect Makati to the North Luzon Expressway and decongest major thoroughfares such as EDSA.