TRAFFIC at South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) is expected to ease up by November, as Skyway Operations and Maintenance Corp. (SOMCO) said it will speed up the completion of the heavy preliminary works on its extension project.

In a statement yesterday, the unit of conglomerate San Miguel Corp. said one of the Skyway lanes that has been temporarily closed since last week will be reopened by end-November. The lane was closed as preliminary work on the Skyway extension project began.

“SOMCO assured motorists that they will get a reprieve from traffic in the south by November when heavy preliminary works are targeted for completion, just before much of the Christmas rush,” it said.

SOMCO is currently undertaking a P10-billion extension on both directions of the Skyway from the toll plaza of the main line linking to Susana Heights. Construction of the four-kilometer elevated viaduct started in June and is scheduled for completion by December 2020.

Since last week, motorists have complained about the heavy traffic that spilled over to SLEx brought by the lane closure at Skyway, affecting vehicles coming from Laguna up to Alabang.

“We understand your frustration but given that the holiday season is fast approaching, we have to be aggressive with the schedule as it is our best ‘window’ to complete preliminary road works before peak traffic season,” SOMCO President Manuel M. Bonoan said in the statement.

“We ask for understanding and patience from our motorists for this temporary inconvenience.”

Aside from the already closed lane last week, SOMCO also notified motorists of a one-way traffic scheme to be implemented starting Oct. 8 at 10 p.m. for the northbound lanes from Alabang to Sucat Interchange. The scheme will run until end of November.

The current works at Skyway cover Phase 1 of SOMCO’s extension master plan for the toll road, which seeks to extend the northbound and southbound lanes of Skyway from Muntinlupa to Susana Heights. Once completed, it will link the toll road to the Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway.

SOMCO said the next phases of the extension project will include works to decongest traffic at Bicutan, Sucat and Alabang-Zapote Road access points.

“[O]ur aggressive target to complete Phase 1 is by December next year. There are possible causes of delay: right-of-way issues, moving of pipelines, power lines, and the like. However, with the leadership and full support of government, we’re confident we can still fast-track and complete it in a relatively shorter period of time,” Mr. Bonoan said. — Denise A. Valdez