The Manila Times, 22 December 2013
By Rosalie C. Periabras
Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) through its subsidiary, Private Infra Dev. Corp. Inc. (PIDC), is eyeing the full completion of the 88.85-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) by 2015.
PIDC is the concessionaire of the TPLEX.
The TPLEX, which is being undertaken through the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) program by the all-Filipino consortium which includes DMCI Holdings Inc., will be formally opened today by President Benigno Aquino 3rd via an inaugural drive-through.
In a statement, Ramon Ang, president and chief operating officer of SMC, said that, “In terms of construction, we are ahead of schedule. We are on track to delivering the entire length of TPLEX as early as 2015.”
Coinciding with the inaugural drive by President Aquino is the opening of the expressway’s Paniqui exit, which brings to 23 kilometers the total length of the TPLEX that is currently operational.
In October, PIDC opened the project’s 17-kilometer Phase 1A from Tarlac City to Victoria, Pura, then Gerona, for free, to the public.
Currently, work is ongoing on the 27-kilometer stretch from Paniqui to Moncada in Tarlac, then Carmen in Pangasinan, including the construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct.
While this portion is slated for completion by December 2014, PIDC said that the 27-kilometer stretch is expected to be completed as early as April next year. By then, the two-hour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen will be reduced to only 30 minutes.
“Right now, we are waiting for the completion of the acquisition of the right-of-way for the 13.72-kilometer portion from the north bank of the Agno River up to Urdaneta. But our government is working on that. We are confident that we will complete this section up to Urdaneta as early as December 2014,” Ang said.
He added that the remaining 25.83-kilometer section from Urdaneta to Rosario, La Union, will be completed the following year, a full three years ahead of the original 2018 target.
The TPLEX, one of several infrastructure projects in SMC’s portfolio and its first greenfield tollway project, is seen as a vital road project in Luzon, connecting the Central and Northern Luzon provinces to Manila and beyond through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway.
From end-to-end, the TPLEX will traverse 17 towns and two cities (Tarlac and Urdaneta City) across four provinces: Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija.
Originally designed as a two-lane road, SMC decided to upgrade the project to four lanes to ensure road safety and in anticipation of future traffic growth. It can be expanded up to eight lanes in the future.
Once complete, the TPLEX will cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to only one hour.