NLEX Corp. is set to start the construction by June  the P23-billion connector road project linking the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), according to Rodrigo Franco,  NLEX Corp. president and chief executive officer.

Once completed by 2021, the connector road will  reduce travel time between the two expressways from two hours to 20 minutes. It will also help improved connectivity between the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Clark International Airport.

Right-of-way (ROW) acquisition proceedings are still being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Franco said.

NLEX Corp.’s parent firm Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) will raise funds to finance the construction.

“When the connector road starts, we need additional funding,” Franco said.

The initial part of the construction will be financed by the funds to be raised from a retail bond issuance.

MPTC will raise additional funds towards the end of the year or early next year, depending  on the connector’s  scheduled construction, Franco said.

The company plans a  P25-billion bonds issuance of which an initial  P4 billion to P6 billion will be launched soon to refinance maturing debts and other projects.

MPTC is optimistic government will be able to settle the issue on the five-kilometer common alignment connecting MPTC’s  NLEX-SLEX connector road to the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) ’s P26.5-billion Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3.

Franco said  discussions are ongoing between NLEX and the DPWH.

“I’ve seen a report…  (SMC is) planning a… change in the alignment in Skyway  but we’re taking the view that our contract  is with the  government and the government will provide us the  connection to the Skyway,” Franco said.

“We believe the government will be taking an active role in making sure (the connector road and the Skyway) will be connected,” he added.

Based on original proposal, the two expressways will be connected in Plaza Dilao and PUP Sta. Mesa.

“It is important to us to connect originally in Sta. Mesa,” Franco added.

Under the contract, NLEX Corp. will construct, operate and maintain the P23-billion unsolicited project.

The connector road is an eight-kilometer four-lane elevated expressway over the Philippine National Railway ROW from the C3/5th avenue interchange in Caloocan City to PUP Sta. Mesa, Manila.

By Myla Iglesias