|SOFT OPENING. The partial opening of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway will|
cut travel time to Baguio City by 40 minutes. Map courtesy of DPWH
MANILA, Philippines - Passengers and motorists bound for north Luzon destinations can breeze through traffic when a portion of the 88.6 kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) opens on October 30.
The first phase of the TPLEx project – the 17 kilometer stretch from Tarlac City, Victoria, up to Gerona, Tarlac – will be open to traffic, according to the October 25 statement of the infrastructure unit of San Miguel Corporation.
This portion of the toll road will cut current travel time to Baguio City, the country's summer capital, by as much as 40 minutes, according to the statement.
TPLEx connects to the northern tip of another expressway, the Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), which in turn connects to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx).
This 'soft-opening' provides a seamless connection for passengers coming from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga and other areas via NLEx, SCTEx, and TPLEx up to Gerona town in central Luzon.
The Toll Regulatory Board authorized the issuance of the Toll Operating Permit for Private Infra Development Corporation (PIDC), the all-Filipino consortium of San Miguel unit Rapid Thoroughfares, Inc., DMCI Group and D.M. Wenceslao & Associates, Inc, also on Friday, October 25.
It did not provide details about toll rates.
Once completed, the P23.8 billion TPLEx project will have exits from Gerona in the following:
- Paniqui, Tarlac
- Moncada, Tarlac
- Rosales, Pangasinan
- Urdaneta City, Pangasinan
- Pozorrubio, Pangasinan
- Rosario, La Union
Target completion of the section up to Rosales is mid-2014. The section up to La Union is scheduled for completion by 2016.
According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) site, the entire stretch of TPLEx is91.95% complete as of September 2013.
DPWH said the toll road will reduce travel time from Tarlac to Rosales to 30 minutes from 2 hours, benefitting 13,00 travelers a day.
For travelers from Tarlac to Rosario, travel will be cut to 1-hour from the current 3.5 hours. Target is to have 20,000 travelers using it per day.
During the May 2013 San Miguel annual stockholders meeting, the company's chair Eduardo Cojuangco said there are plans to extend TPLEx all the way to Laoag.
The proponents highlighted these:
- There will be a fleet of patrol cars and emergency assistance vehicles that can respond to motorists anywhere along the stretch within 10 minutes
- concrete barriers
- lighting and cameras in all toll plazas
- signs and pavement markings with powdered glass beads for enhanced visibility
- Speed sensors to ensure motorists will keep to the 100-kilometers per hour limit
- Toll plazas in major entry points will be equipped with electronic card dispensing machines
- All installations will be fiber optic, internet-enabled
First San Miguel infra project
Originally designed as a two-lane road, the TPLEX proponents decided to upgrade it to 4 lanes "to enhance efficiency and road safety and anticipate future growth in traffic volume," San Miguel said.
“This marks our first foray into the construction of tollways and is a major milestone in our infrastructure master plan," noted San Miguel president and COO Ramon S. Ang.
"The opening of TPLEX holds great significance for us because this is the first in a number of major greenfield projects since we began diversifying into new businesses," he added.
Other toll road projects in San Miguel's infrastructure portfolio include the P11-billion NAIA Expressway and Skyway Stage 3, which will connect Makati to NLEx. - Rappler.com