MABALACAT CITY -- Three days before the SEA Games, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corporation opened an interchange leading to the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The opening ceremonies of 30th SEA Games will be held at the Philippine Arena and the New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac.
With the opening of the new freeway slot, traveling to the eastern portion of Bulacan is expected to be faster as the DPWH inaugurated the new NLEX Philippine Arena Interchange.
The new interchange is expected to improve mobility and accessibility within the Bulacan road network, particularly in Bocaue, Sta. Maria, Pandi, Norzagaray, Angat, and other nearby towns.
An inaugural drive-thru of the new interchange was led by DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, Senator Joel Villanueva, House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, Bocaue Mayor Eleonor Villanueva, Toll Regulatory Board Executive Director Abraham P. Sales, Iglesia ni Cristo legal counsel Glicerio Santos IV, and NLEX Corporation Senior Vice President for Communication and Stakeholder Management Romulo Quimbo Jr.
Initially, the section from Philippine Arena to the southbound side of NLEX will open on November 29, while the southbound section (from north of NLEX) going to the Philippine Arena will open on November 30 only for the SEA Games opening ceremony to give way to the remaining works of the interchange project.
The Philippine Arena Interchange features an 80-lineal meter bridge that connects Bocaue Municipal Hall, NLEX, Ciudad de Victoria, and Bocaue-Sta. Maria Bypass Road. It also has a northbound entry and exit toll plaza and soon, a southbound toll plaza for better accessibility.
"The Philippine Arena Interchange is just one of our priority projects in Bulacan to help ease mounting traffic along Governor F. Halili Road in Bocaue-Sta.Maria and address the usual heavy traffic situation at the Bocaue Interchange," said Villar.
"We also expect this new road to further accelerate trade and commerce within the province," he added.
Eventually, a 1.91-kilometer road from MacArthur Highway to Bocaue Municipal will be improved and a 1.3-kilometer road from the Philippine Arena to the existing Patubig Road in Marilao, Bulacan will be constructed.
"We are excited with this project that will further improve the roads leading to the Philippine Arena, especially now that we are hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games Opening Ceremony," said Villar.
Touted as the world's largest indoor arena, the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena is a venue for international sports and entertainment events. It is part of the Ciudad de Victoria, a tourism enterprise zone in Bocaue and Sta. Maria.
For his part, NLEX Corporation President and General Manager J Luigi Bautista said NLEX is keen on supporting the government's infrastructure plan, as it also provides travel convenience for motorists using the expressway system and opens up opportunities for local communities.
Construction is also underway for the southbound entry as well as northbound entry and exit toll plazas that will form the Tambubong Interchange.
This new road will reduce travel time and provide another access for motorists coming from NLEX going to eastern parts of Bulacan and vice versa.