By Zorayda S. Tecson
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, July 20 (PNA) –The government has been pursuing massive infrastructure development in Central Luzon that aims to boost economic growth and progress in the region.
The government’s infrastructure spending is a manifestation of the Aquino administration’s determined efforts to accelerate development in the region through the construction of the major roads, highways and flood control projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative.
Other projects being implemented in the region are under the convergence program such as the tourism infrastructure in coordination with the Department of Tourism and the construction of farm to market roads with the Department of Agriculture and Department of Agrarian Reform.
Severino Santos, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), said the government wants to pursue infrastructure development to help boost economic growth, attract investors and create more jobs.
One of these infrastructures is the 88.85-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), which 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 (SCTEX) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
Currently, a 49.30- kilometer stretch of the TPLEX from Tarlac City to Rosales, Pangasinan is operational.
On progress is the 13.72 kilometer stretch from Rosales to Urdaneta, including construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct.
The remaining 25.83-kilometer section from Urdaneta to Rosario, La Union will be completed in 2018.
From end to end, the TPLEX will traverse 17 towns and two cities (Tarlac and Urdaneta) across four provinces: Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija.
The government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has also completed the first phase of the Plaridel By-Pass Road which involved 14.65 kilometers road, 2.40 kilometers access road, and seven bridges starting from North Luzon Expressway via a new interchange in Barangay Burol, Balagtas to the junction of Alejo Santos Road in Bustos, Bulacan.
It realized travel time savings of 20-23 minutes and directly benefitting the towns of Balagtas, Plaridel, Pandi, Bustos, Baliuag, Angat and San Rafael.
Also in the pipeline is the proposed North Luzon Expressway(NLEX) East project and the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX), Phase 1 (Tarlac-Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija)
The NLEX East project will form an important transport access in the eastern area of Central Luzon.
With a length of 92.1 km., the project consists of Phase I and Phase II which is up to Cabanatuan City starting from the end point of La-Mesa Parkway and/or junction of C-6 in San Jose del Monte via Norzagaray, Angat, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, Gapan, and Sta. Rosa in parallel with the Pan Philippine Highway.
The CLLEX Phase I, on the other hand, will form an important lateral (east-west) link for the overall expressway network of the region.
With a total length of 30.7 kilometers, the construction of a four-lane expressway will start from Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) at 2.5 km north of Luisita Interchange and will end in Cabanatuan City.
Likewise, the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Central Luzon has began to roll up its sleeves to implement important projects that will further boost socio-economic development projects in the region.
“We will prioritize projects based on the benefits of the region and we will see to it that no province in Central Luzon will be left behind,” RDC-3 chairman and Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado earlier said.
Alvarado said the RDC-3 will be pushing for what they termed as the “missing link” in further boosting the Clark International Airport –the mothballed Northrail project which will connect the region’s premiere international airport to Metro Manila and that will also compliment the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Among the projects that the RDC-3 will focus on are the revival of the Pampanga River Control System; the Bataan Expressway connecting the province to the Subic Freeport; the western river flood control project in Zambales; the Balog-balog project in Tarlac; costal roads and the conversion of the Bayabas river into a dam in Bulacan.
Meanwhile, the government has prioritized the flood control projects to ease flooding in the low-lying areas in the region.
These include the restoration and rehabilitation of San Fernando- Sto. Tomas-Minalin Tail dike with a cost of P139 million and the construction of spillway No. 1 and spillway no. 3 including clearing and desilting/excavation of tributary rivers (P637 million); rehabilitation works on Del Carmen – Balimbing creek in San Fernando and the rehabilitation of the Apalit-Arayat breached dike (P124 million), all in Pampanga.
In Bataan, five flood mitigation projects worth P55 million are being undertaken by the DPWH in Pilar town and dredging works along Orani channel worth P50 million.
Other ongoing projects in the region include the Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan project costing P1.53 billion and the dredging of Labangan Channel in Hagonoy, Bulacan .
Under the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project – Phase 3 (ARISP-III), the DPWH said that 19 projects having total road length of 49.54 kilometers, at a cost of P224 million were completed in the region.
Likewise, the government is continuously upgrading the Clark International Airport that include the expansion of its passenger terminal building from 11,000 to 17,000 square meters.
There are also plans to build a new budget terminal which is expected to be approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) this August.
However, the “biggest development” in the region as what President Benigno Aquino earlier said would be the proposed Clark Green City, a project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Recently approved by NEDA, the Clark Green City project is envisioned to become the country’s most modern and the first technologically-integrated city.
The Clark Green City is located within the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) and at the heart of the bustling urban centers and major infrastructures in Central Luzon.
The first phase of the Clark Green City, which comprises 1,300 hectares of the 9,450-hectare land, will be up for bidding by the third quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, the construction of vital infrastructure and tourism projects needed for the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) slated to be held in major areas in the region in 2015 are ongoing.
These projects include the upgrading of the Pandan-Magalang Road costing P60 million; the Mac-Arthur Highway in the Balibago commercial district (P41.5 million); and the Friendship Road (P60 million); and the widening and upgrade of the drainage system along Don Bonifacio Road (P19 million), all in Clark and Angeles City in Pampanga. (PNA)