When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte promised to ease Metro Manila traffic at the start of his term, he meant every word. At the onset, he tasked Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar to build a master plan that will connect all the cities in Metro Manila within a 20 to 30-minute timeframe.
The recent opening of the NLEX Harbor Link, the Laguna Lake Expressway, the Radial Road 10, among others, is only the start of a series of big-ticket projects that will soon be accessible to the public as part of the Luzon Spine Expressway, a network of 939.38 km of high-standard highways or expressways in Luzon targeted to be constructed before 2022. This is more than twice the existing network of 382.26 km.
Once completed, travel time from Metro Manila to La Union will be reduced from about six hours to just over three hours. Travel time from the Ilocos region to Bicol will only take about eight hours from the current 19 hours.
The opening of NLEX Harbor Link last February 28 paved way for the start of another key infrastructure — the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project, an 8-kilometer elevated 4-lane toll expressway extending the NLEX southward from the end of Harbor Link Segment 10 in C3 Road in Caloocan City to PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila and then to the common alignment in Skyway Stage 3.
The project which mostly traverses the PNR tracks will include two interchanges located at C3 Road in Caloocan and España Avenue in Manila.
Cutting across Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas, it is expected to benefit at least 35,000 motorists per day and reduce travel time from NLEX to SLEX from two hours to just 20 minutes.
The benefit of the project does not end in Manila. It will extend to neighboring provinces of Tarlac, Pampanga and Laguna. When this project is completed, travel time from Clark to Calamba will be reduced from over 3 hours to only 1 hour and 40 minutes. It will also improve connectivity between NAIA and Clark airports.
Truck graded, the NLEX-SLEX Connector project will be accessible to trucks 24/7 and include an arrestor bed — an area of special material designed to stop a runaway vehicle.
The Connector will eventually connect to three key projects — the Skyway Stage 3, the NLEX Harbor Link, and the Caloocan interchange.
Skyway Stage is a 14.8-km elevated expressway stretched in its entirety over Metro Manila from Buendia in Makati to North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak in Quezon City. When completed, it will decongest EDSA and other major thoroughfares like Quezon Avenue, Araneta Avenue, Nagtahan, Quirino Avenue, by as much as 55,000 vehicles.
When completed in 2020, Skyway Stage 3 is expected to cut travel time from Makati to Balintawak, from 2 hours and 15 minutes to only 20 minutes.