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Preliminary work on NLEx-SLEx connector road to start by Q4

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PRELIMINARY construction work for the connector road that will link the Metro Pacific group’s North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and San Miguel Corp.’s South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) is expected to start by the fourth quarter of this year, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) said.

MPTC President and Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo E. Franco told reporters last week that work on the NLEx-SLEx connector road is expected to commence within the fourth quarter, and to go full blast by the first quarter of 2019.

“We’re working within the timetable, and we would want to be able to mobilize construction towards the fourth quarter,” he said on the sidelines of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx) piling ceremony in Cebu on Thursday.

Mr. Franco also said acquisition of the right of way for the first section of the alignment is moving, but the deadline for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is still second quarter next year.

The NLEx-SLEx connector road is an eight-kilometer road to be built above the tracks of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) from C3 Road in Caloocan City to Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

The elevated road is set to be completed by 2021, by then it is expected to cut travel time from NLEx to SLEx from two hours to 20 minutes, and from Clark, Pampanga to Calamba, Laguna from three hours to one hour and 40 minutes.

NLEX Corp. is expecting a traffic of at least 35,000 vehicles every day when operations of the connector road begin.

Last week, NLEX Corp. announced it will tap the bond market by the fourth quarter to secure funds for the connector road.

Mr. Franco said its construction would cost them P16 billion, and P22 billion including the right of way.

He also said 70% of the costs, or around P11 billion to P12 billion, will be collected from banks or bonds. The rest would be coming from equity.

MPTC is the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC). MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Denise A. Valdez