Build, Build, Build: Cubao to Quezon in 5 mins? It’s possible



Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Back in 2016, when “Build, Build, Build” was just starting, a lot of people had doubts. One friend looked me in the eye and said, “This was another campaign promise meant to be broken.” We were likened to ardent suitors prepared to say anything. We could not blame them. At that time, it did seem impossible. Traffic in Metro Manila was costing us P3.5 billion a day. EDSA has exceeded its capacity by over a hundred thousand vehicles. Government projects were delayed for years — with some projects implemented only after several decades. But while we were all very familiar with this reality, it was not a reality we were prepared to accept.The Philippines was far from its full potential. To many of us, it was a chance to realize a dream. It was a chance to shape history and usher in the Golden Age of Infrastructure.

When Secretary Mark Villar first laid out the plan for the Luzon Spine Expressway, an 888.26 km network of High-Standard Highways in Luzon — about twice the existing network of 382 km, the objective was to ensure every major city in Metro Manila is connected within a 20 to 30 minute timeframe and that travel time from Ilocos to Bicol is reduced by half from 19 hours and 40 minutes to 8 hours and 15 minutes.

So when President Duterte exclaimed about cutting travel time from Buendia to Cubao to only 5 minutes, a number thought it was impossible. For the “Build, Build, Build” team, this has always been the target. Since the start of the administration, Sec. Villar has instituted a number of reforms founded on basic premises of science and technology — creation of masterplans, decentralization of right-of-way authority, drone monitoring, and  geo-tagging, among others.

For instance, just this year, a number of game-changing projects will be opened to the public.

Skyway Stage 3

The Plaza Dilao Ramp of Skyway Stage 3, an 18.68-kilometer elevated expressway stretched over Metro Manila from Buendia, Makati City, to Balintawak, Quezon City, will be opened to the public this July. It will reduce travel time from Buendia, Makati City to Balintawak, Quezon City, from the current two hours to just 15 to 20 minutes.

The project which is expected to be substantially completed by 2019 will have eight access ramps/interchanges strategically located as follows: Buendia Avenue (South Super Highway, Makati City), Pres. Quirino Avenue (Malate, Manila), Plaza Dilao (Paco, Manila), Nagtahan/Aurora Boulevard (Manila), E. Rodriguez Avenue (Quezon City), Quezon Avenue (Quezon City), Sgt. Rivera St. (Quezon City), and NLEX.

Section 1 from Buendia Avenue in Makati City to Quirino Avenue in Nagtahan, Manila, is now 83 percent completed, while Section 3 from Ramon Magsaysay Avenue to Balintawak is 81 percent completed.

C5 Southlink

Phase 1 of C-5 South Link Expressway, a 7.7-kilometer expressway stretching from R-1 Expressway to SLEX/C5, will also be accessible to the public this July.

Segment 3A1, which spans two kilometers from Merville to C5/SLEX, will reduce travel time from Paranaque to Taguig and Makati from one hour to only 10 to 15 minutes.

NLEX Harbor Spur Link 

Also expected to be completed within the year is the 2.6-km NLEX Harbor Spur Link, which connects to the existing 5.58-km NLEX Harbor Link connecting Karuhatan in Valenzuela City to C3 Road in Caloocan City. The first truck-graded expressway is expected to reduce travel time from Port Area in Manila to Quezon City from 1.5 hours to only 10 mins.

John Lennon was right — A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is a reality.