CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Stakeholders, including the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PamCham), approved on Wednesday the design of the busy highway near the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) exit here to address the worsening traffic affecting major businesses at the capital city.

A signalized intersection will be installed at the portion of the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA), which hosts giants malls of SM and Robinsons and the site of the Azure North Resorts Residences.

This is in consideration the “lack of discipline” of motorists in the country, according to the group.

Officials of the PamCham, Manila North Tollways Corp (MNTC), Toll Regulatory Board and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the City Government attended the meeting on Wednesday at the Laus Group of Companies training center here.

DPWH Regional Director Antonio Molano Jr. described as "effective" the proposed San Fernando signalized intersection, which prevailed over six other proposed designs.

He added that traffic lights solved the traffic congestion in his hometown of Meycauayan in Bulacan province.

The improvement of the roads and bridge in the area are part of the P3.5-billion expansion and improvement of the portion of the NLEX from Sta. Rita to the City of San Fernando, said Raul Ignacio, MNTC vice president for construction and engineering.

He said the MNTC is supportive and is exhausting all options to start the construction of the project "once it's approved" by the TRB.

Ignacio said that the NLEx exit here is one of the busiest among their exits and it has some 12,000 users daily.

Third District Rep. Oscar Rodriguez, who sat beside PamCham chairman emeritus Levy Laus during the meeting, said that "businesses are very much affected by traffic and this must be addressed immediately and properly."

"Road safety is paramount. We are leaving it to the experts for the best design of the intersection," said Laus. He added that the design should be immediately chosen to ensure that the construction will start early next year and end before December 2016.

TRB spokesperson Julius Corpuz said at least eight months is needed for all the necessary procedures and study for the project.

“But we will also try our best to finish the procedures faster,” he added.

The seven proposals were based on actual and recent studies anchored on the "2020 Do Nothing with Development" concept where traffic will get worse five years from now as developments continue propping up in this city and in other areas of Pampanga. (Joey Pavia, contributor)