P1.6-B Subic expressway widening project underway

P1.6-B Subic expressway widening project underway
A drone shot of the Subic Freeport Expressway tunnel that leads to the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway that often becomes a bottleneck during heavy traffic. (Photo by Jason Joshua Garcia)

P1.6-B Subic expressway widening project underway

By Jason Joshua Garcia

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The P1.6-billion Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX) Capacity Expansion Project is now on-going to further ease motoring in and out of this growing business and leisure hub.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the North Luzon Expressway Corporation (NLEX), which operates the SFEX, is undertaking the expansion project designed to improve traffic flow in the area and promote road safety.

“It will also complement the SBMA’s infrastructure development program which includes widening of Freeport roads and improvement of our airport, seaport, and other logistics facilities,” Eisma said.

The SBMA official pointed out that the project also involves raising the Maritan Highway-Rizal Highway-Tipo Road junction by one or two meters, and fixing the drainage system in this area.

“This is the solution to the flooding problem that we have been experiencing in recent years,” Eisma said.

She said that with the start of the project on July 13, part of the Maritan-Rizal-Tipo junction will be closed to traffic and motorists will be redirected to alternate routes along the Causeway Road and the Argonaut-Kalayaan Access Road.

“I know this would exact some toll on the quality of work and leisure environment in Subic, as we have several infrastructure projects going on at the same time. But let us bear in mind that all these are meant to improve the business environment in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone,” Eisma said. “These are, in fact, our investments for a better future.”

According to NLEX Project Manager Elvin Cruz, the SFEX widening project entails construction of additional lanes to convert the 8.8-kilometer road into a four-lane highway.

This includes building new spans alongside the Jadjad and Argonaut bridges, and boring through the mountainside to create another two-lane tunnel beside the existing one.

Cruz said the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by October, in time for Subic’s hosting of 16 sports in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games to be held from November 30 to December 11.

The second phase, which will involve construction in the opposite lane, will start in January 2020.

Eisma said that Subic residents and visitors should expect “the usual dust, noise, and other small inconveniences” during project construction. “So I ask you to bear with us for 18 months until the whole project is completed,” she said.

“The pay-off to our patience will be a better road in and out of the Subic Bay Freeport, and we can then say goodbye to the heavy traffic that we occasionally suffer from during weekends when tourists flock to Subic,” she concluded.

The expressway widening project has been contracted out by NLEX Corp. to Sta. Clara International Corporation, a leading full-service engineering, construction, development and management enterprise in the Philippines which recently received a Quadruple A or “AAAA” license from the Philippine Contractors Association Board.

NLEX Corporation, which is the toll road subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., is the builder-concessionaire and operator of two major expressways that link Metro Manila to North and Central Luzon: North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

The SFEX, which is also known as the Subic-Tipo Expressway or NLEX Segment 7, connects the Subic Bay Freeport to the 94-kilometer SCTEX, which in turn links with the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.

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