NLEX Corporation has started the ground works for the expansion of the Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX). The P1.6-billion project will include additional lanes, two new bridges and a new tunnel.
The 8.2-kilometer expansion road is expected to improve traffic safety and ease travel time to Subic and Zambales.
Of course, everyone welcomed the project especially Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chair and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who said the project will sustain Subic's position as a globally competitive trade and tourism hub.
Continuous improvement of the major roads in the region has been very efficient in promoting investments. I remember the time when SCTEx was still being constructed, several private groups participated in ensuring the success of the project because they knew that a world-class toll road will triple the speed of economic growth in the region.
Seamless travel is important because it brings down the cost of doing business while it cuts down travel time for tourists and motorists.
This is the reason why more and more investors are moving outside Metro Manila. The horrendous traffic in the Capital region has been a great challenge to the national government. Thousands of commuters and workers have been patiently tolerating the situation in Metro Manila because they work there. The daily torture is quite unbearable to us, people from the provinces.
Imagine Clark and Subic, with the clean environs and easy traffic, who would not want to start a business here? One of my clients, LBY Construction Inc., has been constructing hotels and condominiums in Clark and Manila and one thing they really appreciate is the comfort of working in Clark.
They said they will Clark anytime should there be more projects here. They are pure Chinese anyway, most of them are new in the country. So no biases yet. Only a few people would want to settle in Manila because of the unbearable traffic.
I heard that Angeles City Councilor Jay Sangil is pushing for a total truck ban in the city. He wanted to pass a legislation that will prevent quarry trucks from passing through the city roads.
He said the city is not directly benefitting from the multi-million quarry industry in Pampanga. Majority of the quarry operators are under the provincial government and only a small number have permits from Angeles LGU.
The good councilor has a valid point though the main rationale is not only about the income.
It is more about the damage caused by overloaded trucks passing through the city. Despite the national law against overloading, these quarry trucks continue to operate under unacceptable conditions.
The DPWH repeatedly infuses hundreds of millions in pesos to construct and repair major roads such as Mac Arthur Highway and the Circumferential Road in Angeles City because of the fast deterioration caused by overloading.
This problem has been discussed several times in various fora.
One of the best proposals so far is the quarry toll road at the foot of the FVR Megadike. The original proposal was given by Porac Councilor Mike Tapang during his term as president of the provincial councilors' league.
The proposed project was supported by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. There was a feasibility study done for the purpose and I believe it is doable and viable.
All quarry trycka coming from Porac will be routed to the toll road parallel and on the foot of the FVR Megadike.
Instead of passing through the Porac-Angeles road or in Porac-Sta. Rita road, the trucks will direct cross the length of the megadike to Gapan Olongapo Road and NLeX.
I learned from the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industrt that the same project is on the bag in the City of San Fernando. The stretch is from Barangay Lara to GSO.
I just hope that the Provincial Government will seriously address the overloading problem and see the wisdom of saving millions of pesos in repairing our roads yearly.
There should be a long-term solution for this.