The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will start the partial operation of the P11.8-billion Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) phase 1 project this July.

In a statement, DPWH said the four-lane 30-kilometer expressway project connecting Tarlac City, Tarlac to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija is now 94 percent complete.

Mark Villar, DPWH secretary, said the first 18-km. section of the project will soon be accessible to motorists and will shorten the usual travel time of 70 minutes between Tarlac City and Cabanatuan City to just 20 minutes.

The contract packages covering Tarlac section and Rio Chico River bridge section with a total length of 10.5 km. were fully completed while construction of the 9.2 km. Aliaga section of the expressway is 87 percent finished.

CLLEX up to the intersection of Aliaga-Guimba Road in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija is supposed to be finished and partially opened by second quarter of 2021 but was hampered by work restrictions.

DPWH said the CLLEX partial opening was moved from May to July after work suspension had been issued for the ongoing contract packages in compliance with the construction safety guidelines to mitigate the transmission of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the 10.3 km. contract package 4-Cabanatuan section is 88 percent complete, with works currently progressing in areas with newly acquired writ of possession issued by Regional Trial Court branches as renegotiations and legal expropriations with other involved property owners are being done to fully acquire the needed road right-of-way.

DPWH reported Tropical Storm Dante damage in national and flood control structures reached P269 million.

Villar said 270 equipment assets and 1,569 workers were deployed for the on-going clearing activities.