By Betheena Unite
Travel time from Manila to Batangas, Quezon, and Bicol is expected to be reduced drastically by three hours with the extension of the South Luzon Expressway come 2022.
Construction to extend the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Toll Road 4 (TR4) all the way to Lucena City in Quezon Province has begun Tuesday with the groundbreaking ceremony held by the Department of Public Works and Highways and San Miguel Corporation.
“During rush hour, motorists have to endure a long four-hour drive due to the lengthy and busy Daang Maharlika between Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Lucena City, Quezon. This will only take an hour once TR4 is completed,” Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar said.
Villar noted that it will greatly benefit motorists going in and out of southern provinces during summer and holiday season.
The P13.1-billion project is a four-lane toll road that will cover the 66.74-kilometer extension of SLEX from Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Lucena City.
When completed, about 17,000 vehicles are estimated to pass through the toll road every day.
The expressway extension will have seven interchanges – in Sto. Tomas, Batangas; Makban, and San Pablo City in Laguna; Tiaong, Candelaria, Tayabas, and Lucena City in Quezon Province.
The SLEX TR4 will be implemented within four years by concessionaire South Luzon Tollways Corporation (SLTC), which is under the San Miguel Corporation.
It is divided in six packages, starting with the 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 and the 9.96-kilometer Package F from Tayabas to Lucena City, Quezon.
“In 36 months, I am confident we will be back to inaugurate the finished expressway,” San Miguel Corporation President Ramon Ang said.
“With this new toll road comes progress. New businesses will emerge and bring growth to the level of small towns and barangays,” Ang added.
According to Villar, the toll project has had at least seven groundbreaking ceremonies spanning two administrations but “this is the first time that civil construction will immediately commence after the groundbreaking.”