CALOOCAN CITY -- Public Works Secretary Mark Villar inspected on Tuesday, November 5, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Connector construction site.
According to Villar, the NLEX Connector will significantly cut travel time from NLEX to South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) by at least 60 percent once completed in 2021.
"Instead of the usual 2 hours, travel time will now be reduced to about 20 minutes," Villar said.
He added that it will also provide improved accessibility for cargo trucks bound for the Manila Ports -- North and South Harbor -- and the international airports such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport.
Meanwhile, NLEX Corporation president and general manager J. Luigi L. Bautista said the connector aims to decongest major thoroughfares such as Edsa and C5.
"We are confident that our team, our contractor, and our partners in government will work together to deliver high quality elevated expressway," Bautista added.
Seen as a crucial infrastructure needed to solve traffic congestion in Metro Manila, the NLEX Connector is also expected to stimulate economic development in Manila, Caloocan, Malabon, and Navotas, as well as its surrounding areas.
Around 35,000 motorists, especially cargo trucks, who are expected to benefit from the project, will be spared using Metro Manila's congested city roads since they will traverse their routes mostly above the Philippine National Railways (PNR) alignment.
The NLEX Connector is one of the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects awarded by the Duterte administration in 2016.
The connector, which is along the PNR tracks, will provide an integrated and all-elevated expressway connection between the North and South Luzon expressways.
Villar inspected the construction site together with officials of NLEX Corporation and construction company D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI).
Earlier, NLEX Corp. formally awarded the main works contract to DMCI for the first five-kilometer section of the NLEX Connector from Grace Park, Caloocan City to Espana St., Sampaloc, Manila.
Spanning a total of 8 kilometers, the full NLEX Connector will be an all-weather, all-vehicle class elevated expressway that will traverse the new Caloocan Interchange in 5th Avenue/C3 Road in Caloocan City, pass through España, and eventually link up with the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Villar was also present during the formal awarding of the main civil works contract to DMCI together with Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) president and chief executive officer Rodrigo Franco, NLEX Corp. president Bautista, NLEX Corp. chief operating officer Raul Ignacio, DMCI president and chief executive officer Jorge Consunji, DMCI associate managing director Christopher Rodriguez, and DMCI senior vice president for Business Strategy and Development Rebecca Civil.
The contract covers the main civil works for the Caloocan-España section.
The NLEX Connector will continue the NLEX southward from NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 from the new Caloocan Interchange. The project will utilize portions of the existing right-of-way (ROW) of the PNR.
The ROW will be shared by the NLEX Connector project and the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR), currently also under construction.
Villar urged the fast-tracking of the turnover of the ROW for the project.
"We are committed to accelerating the ROW acquisition in order to build traffic solutions for our motorists," Villar said.
Also present at the future site of Caloocan Interchange were other Cabinet Secretaries of the "Build. Build. Build" team.
The new Caloocan Interchange will serve as a strategic converging point for the 5.65-kilometer NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, the 2.6-kilometer R-10 section, and the 8-kilometer NLEX Connector.
Since its groundbreaking on February 28, witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte, several construction milestones have been achieved and the engineering works have progressed for this elevated expressway.