Story & photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
PUBLIC Works Secretary Mark A. Villar recently inspected the ongoing North Luzon Expressway (Nlex)–Harbor link project of Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), which was held at Karuhatan Village in Valenzuela City.
A few journalists, including this writer, were invited to witness the inspection and the progress of the link on March 8.
The tour started from link Segment 9 of the project, wherein motorists from Nlex to Caloocan or somewhere within the vicinity of Karuhatan in Valenzuela would be able to take the Smart Connect Interchange and get to their destination faster.
After the inspection, the convoy of media, MNTC officials and their counterparts from the Department of Public Works and Highways proceeded to the Segment 10, which traverses the cities of Malabon, Caloocan and Manila using an old Philippine National Railway lane. An exit ramp will be built on Road 10 (R-10), which will connect the Port Area with 5.76-kilometer-long at Segment 10, which will cost around P10.5 billion. This will be a four-lane elevated expressway project, according to MNTC.
During the interview at the project site, Villar told the media that President Duterte instructed him to prioritize the infrastructure projects, such as this one, to help ease traffic congestion. He said, “The remaining 35 percent of the right-of-way for the project stands in the way and are now being cleared, which is why we are confident that we will be able to finish the project by the end of this year.”
He added, “One of the reasons it took time for them to clear the right-of-way of obstruction was they have to deal with concrete structures, including a 16-story building.” Meanwhile, in another inspection atop the finished structure that overlooks the city of Caloocan, MNTC Senior Vice President Raul Ignacio noted the fast progress of their project, which started two years ago. In fact, “we were forced to slow down as we are still awaiting the clearing of the remaining 35 percent of the right-of-way. We have to redeploy some of our workers in our other projects. As the delay is costing us at least P1.5 million daily,” he said.
Another official, who refused to be named for the lack of authority to speak on the matter, pointed out on the crossheads, columns just waiting to be installed as soon as the remaining obstacles are cleared by the DPWH and the Department of Transportation, as well.
The Nlex-Harbor link and Connector Road Projects are expected to bring the following benefits once it is finished, such as decongest Manila, as it provides alternative access to mainline Nlex; bypassing Edsa and Balintawak Toll Plaza; shorten travel distance by establishing direct routes between the North Luzon, Camanava and Northern Manila areas; cut travel time by almost half as it allows an average speed of 80 kilometer per hour; improve movements of cargo trucks, as they will not have to worry anymore on the truck ban; lower incidence of road accidents due to better road pavement; and tighter traffic management.
The project is also expected to spur economic activities in the Camanava area and increase land value, as well, improve transport logistics with more efficient movement of trucks in and out of the ports in Manila, stimulate commerce between Port Area, Central and Northern Luzon and, last, it generate about 10,000 jobs during the construction phase.
“I am really hoping that the project is finished before December,” Villar said.