By ANNA MAE LAMENTILLO
The story of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Toll Road 4 (TR4) is a peculiar one. The project spanning 66.74 km broke ground for at least seven times. But Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar promised that the March 26 groundbreaking would be the last one. People who attended the event joked that “hopefully, this is the final groundbreaking.” The right-of-way problem which had previously hounded the project has finally been resolved. Construction will immediately commence the day after.
When completed, the 66.74-km 4-lane expressway is expected to reduce travel time from Manila to Batangas, Quezon, and Laguna by as much as three hours. Villar noted that motorists who usually had to endure a 4-hour drive from Sto. Tomas in Batangas to Lucena in Quezon Province during rush hour via the Daang Maharlika Highway will only take an hour once the TR4 is complete.
The project, which will be implemented by concessionaire South Luzon Tollways Corporation (SLTC) within four years, is divided into six phases:
- 11.32-kilometer Package A from Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Makban, Laguna.
- 12.75-kilometer Package B from Makban to San Pablo, Laguna.
- 7.5-kilometer Package C from San Pablo to Tiaong, Quezon.
- 15-kilometer Package D from Tiaong to Candelaria, Quezon.
- 10.21-kilometer Package E from Candelaria to Tayabas, Quezon.
- 9.96-kilometer Package F from Tayabas to Lucena City, Quezon.
Fortunately, another big-ticket project broke ground the day after — the 27-km Cavite section of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), a 45-kilometer expressway expected to reduce traffic congestion along Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway and Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road.
CALAX, which starts from the Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) in Kawit, Cavite, and ends at the SLEX-Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna, is expected to reduce travel time from CAVITEX to South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) by about 45 minutes. It is implemented by MPCALA Holdings, Inc. of the Metro Pacific Group.
The Laguna Segment which commenced in June 2017 involves the construction of an 18-kilometer new road from Silang (Aguinaldo) Interchange to the existing Mamplasan Interchange of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Biñan, Laguna.
Both projects is particularly important for Calabarzon, which recorded the largest population as of 2015 with 14.4 million, despite being the 4th smallest region in the country at 16,000 sq. km. The improved road network would also further boost the tourism potential of Calabarzon, which in 2015 is already the top region in terms of same-day visitor arrivals (4,318,625). This is also seen to improve trade and economy of the region which already recorded a Gross Regional Domestic Product valued at 1.45 trillion pesos, according to the National Economic Development Authority.
In essence, Build, Build, Build is a three-pronged strategy meant to counter traffic, poverty, and inequality. According to the World Economic Forum, well-developed infrastructure not only reduces the distance between regions but also integrates national markets and connects them at low costs to other economies.