Luzon motorists plying the major expressways would just find it more convenient to travel as more improvements are slated at NLEX, SCTEX and CAVITEX in the coming months.
Fresh from opening the Segment 10 of the NLEX that has substantially freed up congestion at Balintawak area, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the holding company of the three major expressways has lined up a number of capacity expansion projects. These include construction of additional lanes, bridges and toll plazas.
This developed as the toll road firm gears up for an expected increase in traffic for the Holy Week as it launched an expanded Safe Travel Mo Sagot Ko (SMSK) that will also cover the next long holiday weekends from April to December this year.
Luigi Bautista, president of NLEX Corporation said that the company remains committed in improving road travel by continually improving the expressways and upgrading their features.
The NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 C3-R10 Section is well underway to further connect NLEX to the port area. This 2.6-kilometer elevated expressway will traverse the Caloocan Interchange in C3 to R10 in Navotas City.
Expected to be finished by December this year, the C3-R10 section is seen to boost transport logistics as cargo trucks will have direct access from the port area to the provinces in the North and vice versa via the NLEX.
The section is the extension of the 5.65-kilometer portion of the NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 from Karuhatan, Valenzuela City to C3 Road, Caloocan City, which was opened last February 28 and has since served over 100,000 vehicles.
To address the increasing traffic volume at SCTEX, more toll lanes will be built in Clark South A and South B exits; Clark North entry and exit; San Miguel northbound entry and exit; and Tarlac entry and exit. The construction of Bamban Interchange, which will link the expressway to New Clark City, is also ongoing, in time for country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games.
In previous years, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and NLEX Corporation implemented several enhancement projects along the 94-kilometer SCTEX.
The projects include the NLEX-SCTEX integration in 2016, which reduced toll collection stops and improved travel time of motorists, the expansion of Tipo Toll Plaza and Mabiga Interchange, and the pavement rehabilitation of the entire expressway. CCTV systems, LED lights, emergency call boxes, crash cushions, and reflective delineator plates were also installed to enhance motorists’ safety.
A new traffic control room was also put up to monitor real-time traffic along the expressway. The management, operation, and maintenance of SCTEX was turned over by BCDA to the NLEX Corporation in 2015.
At the 8-kilometer NLEX Segment 7 or the Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX), two new expressway lanes will be added to better accommodate the growing number of vehicles going in and out of the Subic Bay Freeport.
From having one lane in each direction, SFEX will now have two lanes in each direction including a new tunnel, and two new bridges — Jadjad Bridge and Argonaut Bridge. Expressway-standard LED lights will be installed in a bid to keep the expressway safe for motorists, particularly for those driving at night.
The province of Bulacan will also benefit from various improvements this year as the NLEX Corporation and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) undertake the road network expansion project along the NLEX connecting to the national roads.
New entry ramps from Balagtas Interchange to the NLEX northbound and from Gov. Halili Avenue to NLEX Bocaue southbound toll plaza are being constructed to help ease traffic congestion in the said areas. A southbound exit toll plaza and northbound entry and exit toll plazas will be built at Brgy. Tambubong to make up the new Tambubong Interchange. This interchange will serve as an alternate route for motorists bound for Pandi, Bulacan and nearby towns.
Motorists heading to Metro Manila from central and northern Luzon destinations now have a prime pit stop on the southbound of NLEX in Canumay, Valenzuela City. Dubbed as the NLEX Drive & Dine, the new expressway service facility features a wide variety of retail and food establishments. This is the first expressway service facility owned by NLEX Ventures Corporation, a subsidiary of NLEX Corporation.
Meanwhile, the MPT South Corporation is expanding the Wawa, Parañaque, and Las Piñas bridges as well as adding cash lanes at the Parañaque Toll Plaza in Cavitex. These enhancements are part of the continuing efforts to provide better service to motorists.
Construction is also ongoing for the Cavitex C5 South Link and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX). The 7.7-kilometer, six-lane Cavitex C5 South Link aims to help decongest traffic by linking major business districts in Makati and Taguig to the southern cities of Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Cavite. It will eventually connect to the 45-kilometer, four-lane CALAX which will start from Kawit, Cavite to Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna.
Last year, the Cavitex southbound flyover and the Marina left turning facility have been opened to motorists to enable seamless travel in the area.
Safe Trip Mo Sagot Ko Motorist Assistance Program
Atty. Romulo Quimbo, NLEX SVP for Communication and Stakeholder Management said that SMSK includes enhanced traffic management and toll collection services to manage the 10 percent surge in traffic during the Holy Week.
In anticipation of the surge of travelers this Lenten season, the MPTC is again implementing the expanded “Safe Trip Mo Sagot Ko” (SMSK) along the NLEX, SCTEX, and CAVITEX.
Now on its 10th year, the SMSK will continue to cover not only Holy Week, Undas, Christmas, and New Year holidays but also the forthcoming long weekend specifically the National Heroes’ Day.
This Holy Week, around 700 tellers and patrol officers will be deployed at the NLEX-SCTEX to enhance traffic management and toll collection services.
From April 15 to 22, NLEX-SCTEX traffic management teams will adopt extended working hours to closely monitor and manage the expected high volume of vehicles in Balintawak, Mindanao Avenue, Bocaue, Tarlac, San Miguel, and Tipo toll plazas.
On the peak hours of April 17 to 22, the said toll plazas will increase toll collection points by as much as 50 percent. Portabooths and portable toll collection equipment will be used to lessen motorist’s waiting time at the toll plazas.
During the same period, CAVITEX will deploy more traffic patrol officers and security personnel to manage the traffic and assist motorists. Additional tellers will also be on standby to facilitate faster toll transactions.
Road works at the NLEX, SCTEX, and CAVITEX will be suspended beginning April 12 until April 22 unless safety repairs are required.
MPTC and its partners will also set up SMSK Motorist Camps and provide free calls, Wi-Fi, drinking water, basic mechanic services and first aid treatment in designated locations. The SMSK will also provide 24-hour free towing services to the nearest exit for Class 1 vehicles from April 17, 6:00am to April 22, 6:00am.
Real-time traffic situation at the NLEX-SCTEX can be viewed via Facebook Live on the NLEX Corporation Facebook page from April 17, 6am to April 22, 6pm.
The Customer Service hotline (3-5000) will be ready to take calls 24/7, while Customer Service Centers will be available to serve motorists except on April 19 and 21.
SMSK is co-presented by Caltex and supported by Shell, Prestone, Smart, PLDT, Maynilad, and media partners TV5, The Philippine Star, Business World, Manila Bulletin, The Daily Tribune, and Manila Standard. (Photos by JP Manalang)