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  • By Lito U. Gagni

Connector Road As Christmas Gift

The Christmas Season is upon us – and there are two optics that prove that: the glittering Yuletide lights and lanterns everywhere, and traffic jams anywhere throughout the metropolis.

Photo Insert: The connector will greatly improve traffic flow through major thoroughfares like España Boulevard, Abad Santos Avenue, Rizal Avenue, and Lacson Avenue, not to mention.

It's a mix of good news and bad news. The good news is you have that joyous feeling whenever you see those lights and lanterns brightening street corners. The bad news is you are caught in a traffic snarl. And you ask: When will these traffic jams ever end!

Well, there is, hopefully so, another piece of good news. An expressway project that runs from the north to the south – and vice versa -- will soon be completed in February 2023. That’s soon enough, considering the usual speed by which roadway projects keep their timetable.

MPTC-SMC Infra Project

I refer to the NLEX-SLEX Connector, an eight-kilometer four-lane, elevated expressway that, as the name says, will connect the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway. It is the latest roadway project of the Pangilinan-led firm Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).

This tollway will start from C-3 through the Caloocan Interchange, will run through Blumentritt and Espana, until it reaches Sta Mesa, in the vicinity of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) to be exact. The NLEX component ends here – and, according to plan – the Skyway Stage 3 begins that will finally link up the Connector to SLEX. Again, thus the name “NLEX-SLEX Connector."

But, here’s the question: Can the link-up happen anytime soon? This brings everyone hoping that the “interconnection structure” – a mere 1.2-kilometer segment – can be built promptly, so the February deadline is met.

We are sure that SMC Infrastructure, builder of Skyway Stage 3 and is operating SLEX can install the interconnection structure in no time at all – and just in time to be faithful to the Connector timetable.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Cost- Benefit

The Connector’s project cost is P23.3 billion – surely not one’s petty cash. MPTC has enough major reasons for bankrolling the entire project, with a little help from its friendly creditors, of course.

The huge project cost must be seen from the viewpoint of the benefits that will accrue to the logistics industry, to the cargo-carrying trucks that will enjoy a hassle-free journey, minus truck bans and occasional kotongs from unscrupulous enforcers. Thus, car motorists and riders will finally enjoy seamless traffic within the Connector.

Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

The Connector project is a modern urban tollway that provides a solution to the perennial traffic problem – in the form of a seamless connection between the southern, central, and northern parts of Luzon. What’s more, there is minimal disruption and use of the congested roads in the metropolis.

Furthermore, the Connector is designed to serve about 7,000 Class 2 and Class 3 vehicles (mostly trucks). Diverting these trucks to the Connector from the public roads will result in lighter traffic in these existing thoroughfares on the ground.

Entrepreneurship: Business woman smiling, working and reading from mobile phone In front of laptop in the financial district.

More specific benefits

In more specific terms, traffic flow will greatly improve through major thoroughfares like España Boulevard, Abad Santos Avenue, Rizal Avenue, and Lacson Avenue. The Manila ports will be directly connected to their various destinations northward and southward. Consider the tremendous possibilities of greatly improved commerce!

Pasay City to the Clark Airport in Angeles, Pampanga

The travel time from NLEX to SLEX will be drastically cut from two hours to a mere 20 minutes.

And the ultimate winner is the country, which will experience increased trade and commerce between north and south. Beyond the two expressways in the north and in the south are provinces which host manufacturing facilities that will be fed with raw materials and major hardware in order to crank out more products that end up in the local and foreign markets.

Banking & finance: Business man in suit and tie working on his laptop and holding his mobile phone in the office located in the financial district.

Metropolis, Country: Avoid More Losses

The Boston Consulting Group reported in a study that the National Capital Region has the third worst traffic condition in Southeast Asia. In Manila alone, commuters in 2021, based on another study, lost some 15 hours going through the city’s rush hour traffic.

Earlier in 2014, a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reported that traffic congestion was costing the Philippine economy P2.4 billion a day. JICA warned that if this situation is not addressed soon, economic losses could swell to P5.4 billion a day by 2035.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

2022 must be the last Christmas with heavy traffic

Christmas ’22 must be the last Yuletide Season for heavy traffic in the metropolis. So Christmas ’23 will be vastly different!

Imperative: Can MPTC meet its deadline to finish its part of the NLEX SLEX Connector construction? Section 1, a 5.15-kilometer tollway, is 90% complete already. This section starts at C3 Road in 5th Avenue in Caloocan City, and proceeds to España Boulevard in Manila.

Connector’s Section 2, a 2.75-kilometer segment, starts at España and runs all the way to PUP Sta. Mesa. This is 22% finished.

Health & lifestyle: Woman running and exercising over a bridge near the financial district.

It’s high time the 1.2-kilometer interconnection structure – the “missing link” -- is finished by early next year. This is peanuts to SMC Infra, who is building tollways in the midst of the metropolis, through provinces from Tarlac to La Union.

The Christmas spirit must rub off on SMC by hastening the completion of the Connector. MPTC has done its part of the project; SMC just has to lift its finger so our people and country may finally receive this long-overdue Christmas gift.

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