New expressway signals resurgence in Cebu

Published May 16, 2021, 12:19 AM

by Manila Bulletin

From the twin woes of a health crisis and an extreme economic slowdown, the business and industry sectors are now gearing for a much-awaited economic turnaround that could materialize after the government’s massive immunization against COVID-19 shall have been implemented.  Being firmed up in the pipeline are projects on expanded transport and mobility infrastructure, master-planned communities, convention centers, and tourism-oriented businesses.

New-found resolve and energy for economic recovery is evident in Cebu province, specifically Cebu City and adjoining municipalities.

Being built in Cebu is the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX),  a P30-billion 8.5-kilometer road project of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC).  The CCLEX includes the third bridge to cross the Mactan Channel that would connect the Cebu metropolis to the outlying towns on Mactan Island.  It would enable motorists to steer clear of heavy traffic now being experienced at the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.

Already being billed as an engineering marvel,  the CCLEX will have two lanes in each direction and the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) on- and off-ramps from the main bridge connecting to the Cebu South Road Properties (SRP).  The expressway,  with a design speed of 80 to 90 kilometers per hour, will serve an estimated 50,000 vehicles daily.

The prospects of CCLEX’s completion have already begun re-igniting Cebu’s economy.  Land prices in areas near the project site have already risen dramatically. Before the start of the tollway’s construction, the maximum price of land was P500 per square meter. By January 2020 the price had gone up to P5,000 per square meter. The Filinvest group of the Cebu-based Gotianum family has been expanding its residential and commercial developments.

Not to be outdone, the Ayala Corporation and SM Prime Holdings Inc. have put up a consortium that will build a 16,000-seat convention center in Metro Cebu. Ayala Land Inc., has announced the launching of District Square, a prime commercial that will be located Cebu City’s South Coastal Road.  The Gokongwei Group, which also traces its roots to Cebu, is reportedly eyeing Cebu’s gaming business potential.

Already 70 percent complete, the CCLEX is projected to be open for full commercial operations in the first quarter of 2022. The Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), the CCLEX builder, is a joint venture company of the local governments of Cebu City, the municipality of Cordova, and MPTC.  It was granted a 35-year concession period by the government, within which it is expected to profitably operate after undertaking the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the expressway.

The CCLEX was thrust into the limelight last April 15 when eight 40-meter- tall  crosses were lit up atop the bridge, which was part of the commemoration of  500 years of Christianity in the country. Cebu.  Also marked was the historic first circumnavigation of the earth by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who journeyed from Spain to Cebu.

With the Cebuanos’ remarkable resilience, this new bridge and expressway give hope beyond the pandemic.