METRO Pacific Tollways South Corp. (MPT South) should be able to open the first section of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calaex) by next quarter, even as it guns to start the construction of another segment of the thoroughfare sometime this month.

Roberto V. Bontia, the company’s president, said his group aims to open the first section of the Laguna portion of the expressway this July, as it targets to complete the construction of the Mamplasan to Santa Rosa-Tagaytay segment in June.

“We will apply for the corresponding toll fee for that particular segment, so roughly P4.50 per kilometer, as defined by the concession agreement,” he said in a recent interview.

For the Cavite side, Bontia said his group has received substantial right-of-way for the third section of the road. This will allow the group to break ground for Section 3, a 7-kilometer segment runs from the end of Cavitex traversing Kawit until Imus, sometime this month. “Hopefully, we can schedule a groundbreaking sometime in the second or third week of March,” he said.

The company recently secured funding for the construction of the whole Calaex from six banks, raising as total of P24.2 billion from loans. The whole project will cost MPT South roughly P61.8 billion—P34.5 billion to construct and P27.3 billion in premium payments—to build the road.

The facility will start from Cavitex in Kawit, Cavite, and end at the South Luzon Expressway (Slex)-Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna.

The project will involve building a four-lane expressway from these two points through congested residential and industrial areas in Kawit, Imus, General Trias, Dasmariñas and Silang in Cavite, through Santa Rosa and Biñan in Laguna.

The project will have eight interchanges and one main toll barrier.

A priority project of the government’s thrust for infrastructure building, Calaex will ease travel through the fast-growing areas of Kawit, Imus, General Trias, Dasmariñas and Silang in Cavite, as well as Santa Rosa and Biñan in Laguna, and provide a convenient new corridor for a safe and reliable commute through Southern Tagalog.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2021, while operations and maintenance would be from 2020 to 2050.

MPT South, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., tapped DM Consunji Inc. for the construction of the Laguna portion, while the Cavite segment will be undertaken by Leighton Contractors Philippines Inc.

By Lorenz S. Marasigan