By Saul Pa-a
The first 10-kilometer Laguna segment of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) will open in October, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar said Tuesday, September 3.
“Expect this CALAX Laguna portion as we will open this next month, in October. We have several ‘Build, Build, Build’ projects that are up for completion next year, and please expect these,” Villar told reporters during a roadside interview, following the site inspection and drive through.
Villar, along with the DPWH technical team and the project contractor Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation subsidiary MP CALA Holdings Inc. executives and the media convoy conducted their windshield inspections and drive-through at the ongoing construction and finishing touches of the alignment starting from the Mamplasan Toll Barrier up to Silang East, Cavite interchange.
CALAX is designed as a four-lane, 45-km tolled expressway that will connect CAVITEX in Kawit to SLEX at the Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan City, Laguna with eight interchanges in Kawit, Daang Hari, Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway, Silang, Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay, Laguna Boulevard, Technopark and a Toll Barrier before the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
“Once completed with the road alignment, it will only take from 45 minutes to an hour from the usual two-hour travel time taking the same route to CAVITEX,” Villar added.
He said the CALAX Laguna segment spanning the first 10 kilometers will open next month from the Mamplasan Barrier and passes through Laguna Technopark Interchange, Laguna Boulevard Interchange all the way to Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Interchange.
“Those coming from Laguna, going to Tagaytay City would be able to use the road and travel faster and initially the DPWH is looking at some 10,000-traffic volume of road users who are expected to reach around 50,000 road users, once the new CALAX-Laguna portion becomes fully operational,” the DPWH secretary said.
This would decongest the number of road-users along the usual route at SLEX, going to Sta. Rosa City in Laguna and up to Silang and Tagaytay City and those passing through Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway in Cavite.
The CALAX project is seen to benefit the growing industrial, commercial and real estate centers in this part of the Southern Tagalog Region.
He maintained the DPWH projects are on target as these are just estimates with the Cavite side where road right of way acquisitions are ongoing and targeting to finish the entire 45-kilometer stretch up to Cavite before the end of President Duterte’s term.
“The indicative toll is around PHP4 pesos per kilometer,” he said.
In terms of connectivity with the transport system, Villar said they have coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for other projects like the North Luzon Expressway Harbor Link, as the rail going to Clark passes through it and in Metro Manila where DPWH and DOTr have common alignments.
“By next year, we will start the special road going to Sangley Airport. We already have a plan and detailed engineering to also rehabilitate the roads at Sangley Point, with an alternate road that would be faster to reach the Sangley airport,” the DPWH chief said.
He also told media that the DPWH has already disbursed last year around 80 percent of their infrastructure projects where the obligation rate for the awarded projects has reached 93 percent, the highest so far in DPWH history.
He also assured some projects would be completed before 2022 while DPWH is also making the pipeline so that other big-ticket projects would continue even after President Duterte’s term.
He also clarified the alleged delay in some of the DPWH’s PHP 118.4-billion projects where there are some requests for extension by the project contractors owing to weather conditions like those in the typhoon-affected areas which could affect the timeline.
“Those with capital outlay from the regular funding are different because we also have multi-year for big-ticket projects which could not be completed in one year but rather with two-year timelines,” he explained.
He also assured the integrity of all DPWH projects that have passed seismic-rated standards, which could withstand a strong earthquake.
He noted investors’ confidence in looking at the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) as the “next big thing” to Metro Manila with the on-going Toll Road Expressway (TR 4) which connects Laguna and Batangas to Quezon.
“By this quarter, we are completing the full-blown feasibility study of the Quezon-Bicol Expressway in preparation for its construction next year,” he divulged, citing the major expressway network in Southern Luzon.
“So, there’s this big potential of the Calabarzon and it is right for investors to invest here owing to several infrastructure projects,” he added.
He expressed optimism on the dynamism of their “Build, Build, Build” projects and DPWH is refreshing the data on their list of ongoing projects to be submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Meanwhile, MP Cala Holdings Inc. president Bobby Bontia said they are looking forward to deliver the full 45km by the second quarter of 2022.
He said faster, safer, and more comfortable and a reliable route will be experienced by motorists traversing the Cavite, Laguna and South Luzon areas.
He explained that CALAX features the installation of Automatic License Plate Recognition System enabling barrier-less entry; IP-based Speed Detection Cameras; High Definition (HD) CCTV coverage for the entire stretch of the expressway to ensure safety of the motorists including security, and maintenance centers. (First published by PNA, Sept. 3, 2019)