Gov't launches Skyway project linking NLEX and SLEX

MANILA, Philippines – It's another government initiative to improve the worsening traffic in the Metro.

On Wednesday, January 22, President Benigno Aquino III launched Skyway Stage 3, which will run from Buendia, Makati City to Balintawak, Quezon City. The 14.8-kilometer elevated expressway will connect the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and is estimated to cost P26.5 billion.

"Maliwanag po: mababawasan ang traffic sa EDSA at sa iba pang pangunahing kalsada sa kalakhang Maynila, dahil madaragdagan ang kalsadang puwedeng tahakin patungo sa katimugan at hilagang bahagi ng Luzon. Tinatayang 55,000 sasakyan araw-araw ang ikaluluwag ng mga kalsadang ito," Aquino said.

(It is clear: traffic on EDSA and other major roads in Metro Manila will decrease, because we are adding another road that those heading to the northern and southern part of Luzon can traverse. It is estimated that these roads will free up space taken up by 55,000 cars every day.)

When the project is completed, the travel time from the North to the South is expected to take only 15-20 minutes. Currently, it takes two hours.

Aside from saving time, money and gas, the President highlighted the new expressway's added benefits: 6,000 direct jobs and 10,000-12,000 indirect jobs during the period of construction.

The launch marks the start of construction, but will be busiest starting April this year. The project is expected to be completed in April 2017, but an accelerated plan may mean completion as early as mid-2016.

Anticipate traffic

The construction of Skyway Stage 3 has been a long time coming.

As early as the 1970s, plans for the Manila North and Manila South Expressways were already being discussed, including roads connecting Rosales, Pangasinan to Lucena, Quezon.

"My vision is still clear but I don't think we have an expressway in Rosales yet and neither do we have one in Lucena. After several decades, it's only now that we're launching the third part of the Metro Manila Skyway, which was started in the 90s," Aquino said.

The President said his government found solutions to legal and constitutional issues that impeded construction, spoke to private companies, and found solutions to finish the project.

He also asked the public for their patience, as construction is expected to cause some congestion in the following years.

"To our countrymen, I ask for a little patience and understanding. This is a huge project. We cannot just sleep and expect there to be a giant helicopter that can just plop a Skyway on the road so when we wake up, the project is complete. It's important that we are all one in whatever adjustments we have to make to give way to this construction," he said.

In lauding the project, Aquino could not help but take a swipe at his critics, specifically actor-turned-senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr, who slammed Aquino's administration for its supposed poor performance in a privilege speech early this week. (READ: Revilla hits Aquino for 'crooked justice')

Aquino pointed to the Skyway as a "real and concrete project delivered by a just and good government for the benefit of the Filipino people," and not just "a scene from a movie." – Rappler.com