Gov. Villafuerte seeks RDC endorsement of CamSur express tollway project

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY , June 15 (PNA) -– Camarines Sur governor Miguel Luis Villafuerte has asked the Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) to endorse to the national government as a priority project the proposed Camarines Sur Express Tollway Project to fast track its development.

In his recent letter to Albay Governor and RDC Chairman Joey Salceda, copy of which was obtained by the PNA over the weekend, Villafuerte said “I write to seek the endorsement of the Regional Development Council-Region 5, of which you are the chairperson, of a priority public-private partnership (PPP) project of the Province of Camarines Sur called the proposed Camarines Sur Express Tollway Project.”

He said the proposed project aims to lessen congestion in traffic along the Pan-Philippine Highway and promote ease of transport of passengers and commuters, mobility of people, goods and services and interconnection of affected local governments.

Specifically, according to Villafuerte, the project will be beneficial not only to the province of Camarines Sur but also to the province of Albay and the rest of Bicol as well as the southern provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao which are accessible from the region through the same highway (commonly called the Maharlika Highway).

“The feasibility of the project is even more bolstered by the evident road congestion the past weeks along the highway, especially along the San Jose-Pili Bridge section in Camarines Sur,” the Camarines Sur governor said.

The regional office for Bicol of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) based here explained that the traffic congestion on the bridge Villafuerte was referring to is occasioned by its ongoing repair and the rerouting scheme being implemented.

DPWH regional director Danilo Dequito told the PNA here on the phone Saturday that the old two-lane San Jose Bridge in Barangay San Jose, Pili, Camarines Sur, has been closed to vehicular traffic since last Feb. 15 for the replacement work that is scheduled to last for about nine months.

“Traffic advisories were installed along the Maharlika Highway to inform the general public of the bridge closure, including the recommended alternate routes as agreed with concerned local officials,” Dequito said.

In line with the policy to build back better resilient structures, the old two-lane bridge is being expanded into four-lanes with a total length of 65.25 lineal meters and with a width of 16.84 lineal meters, he explained.

“With a total cost of Php82.577 million, the bridge project will be completed within the construction period of 280 calendar days,” Dequito added.

In the same letter to Salceda, Villafuerte said the Camarines Sur express tollway project is aligned with the 2011-2016 Bicol Regional Development Plan (BRDP), which consists of four major development goals—provide for basic needs, ensure economic growth, improve infrastructure and sustainable development.

The proposed expressway, he said, will traverse a total length of about 15.2 kilometers along selected communities in the Camarines Sur municipalities of San Fernando, Minalabac and Pili bypassing all areas within the administrative jurisdiction of Naga City and the town center of Pili, the provincial capital.

Villafuerte said studies show that the proposed project will have a highly positive Economic Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value and Benefits-Cost Ratio.

For these economic benefits, the project is now under a development process of the Public-Private Partnership Center of the national government, he said.

“We hope for your immediate endorsement of this project to fast track its development,” Villafuerte asked Salceda in the letter.

The request was not tackled during last week’s full council meeting of the RDC but a member of the council’s secretariat said the letter was earlier endorsed by Salceda to the Committee on Infrastructure for appropriate course of action. (PNA)