SBMA proposes P100-B expressway-railway from Manila to Subic
MANILA, Philippines – The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has proposed to the government a P100-billion elevated expressway and railway connecting Subic Bay to the Port of Manila to "shift the momentum of development" in the metropolis toward Subic and Clark.
SBMA Chairman Martin Diño said in a statement that he would ask for the Office of the President's approval to include the financing of the project under the Philippine-China Framework of Cooperation, which was signed during President Rodrigo Duterte's state visit to Beijing, China.
According to Diño, the proposed multi-modal 100-kilometer (km) coastal highway has already gained support from Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
"This is the most viable and doable solution to the traffic congestion lying outside the metropolis," the SBMA chief said.
A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) showed the country is losing an estimated P3 billion a day from the traffic mess, which Senator Grace Poe has described as "so grave and great that it needs emergency powers to straighten it out."
The project's indicative cost "is the equivalent of only 34 days of cumulative business losses resulting from Manila's traffic congestion," Diño said.
Construction could be completed in 48 months, he added.
'Immediate, enormous' benefits
"The economic benefits from the project would be immediate and enormous," Diño also said.
The proposed infrastructure, he explained, would shift cargo transit to the Subic Port to ease the congestion that has built up in the Port of Manila's two container terminals.
"It would speed up the movement of goods in and out of the Port of Manila to serve its giant market of 20 million consumers; and it would finally help to decongest heavy traffic in the metropolis," Diño said.
The elevated expressway-railway along the coast of Manila Bay tops his priority list of 5 infrastructure proposals that would tap into the potential of Subic and Clark "to become the new centers of manufacturing, industry, finance, and high technology," the SBMA chief said.
"In our frantic search for solutions that will work, we keep on forgetting about Subic and Clark and their enormous but lightly tapped potential," Diño added.
He said the two centers constitute a "corridor of new wealth" 100 kms north of Manila.
"Compared to other cities, the Subic-Clark corridor 'is the only place that has a sustainable future' and its 'full-blown expansion is the key' that would trigger an inflow of investments."
For Diño, the new Philippine-China economic partnership, ramped-up government spending on infrastructure, and peace talks with communist rebels and Muslim separatists are among the key factors that make the development of Subic and Clark an "extreme necessity."
The proposed highway, which would link the Subic and Manila ports by the shortest route possible, conforms with the Freeport's planned expansion of its Container Terminals 3 and 4 by over 30 hectares.
This would increase its handling capacity to 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), Diño said.
He added the SBMA would boost the handling capacity of the Naval Supply Depot Compound and Bulk Cargo Port Wharves for loose cargo, and rehabilitate the Sattler Pier in Olongapo.
Diño also said converting Tipo Road, which links the Freeport facility to the expressway, into a 4-lane highway and building a new tunnel and bridge to accommodate the new lanes are among his priorities as well.
"Our goal is to connect Subic to Manila and the economic zones in Luzon." – Rappler.com