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Friday, January 29, 2021

SMC Starts Work on Skyway Stage 3's NLEX Connector


San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has started work on a 1.2 kilometer road that will connect the 18-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 to the ongoing 8-kilometer NLEX connector project, a second elevated expressway that will further link the northern and southern parts of Metro Manila. The expressway project runs from C3 road all the way to Santa Mesa in Manila.

This, despite the pending right-of-way acquisition (ROW) negotiations that has delayed the construction of the vital link.

SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said the company is “working on what’s workable,” in order to mitigate delays in ROW acquisition for the connection, located at the Nagtahan to Sta. Mesa areas in Manila.

The connection, part of the detailed engineering design of the Skyway 3 project, can be completed within 24 months or less soon as the ROW issues with the landowners are resolved, Ang said.

“This connection is vital because it will link two major expressways, Skyway Stage 3 and the Metro Pacific Tollways’ connector road project—making accessibility, interoperability, and ease of travel even better for the public,” said Ang.

He added that, “we’re already mobilizing our contractors to start work in areas that are unobstructed, where we’re permitted to work. We’re also already committing the funds needed to buy the ROW properties, so hopefully, these issues will be resolved the soonest,” Ang said.

According to Ang, right-of-way acquisition was the single biggest constraint to the Skyway Stage 3 project. While advance work was started in 2014, actual work on the main sections 1-4 only started in 2015, because of ROW issues. The company mitigated the delays by starting construction in “available” areas, to improve the chances of completing the project soonest and immediately address the worsening traffic in Metro Manila.

However, even then, a lot of ROW issues remained unsettled, prompting numerous realignments and redesigns. SMC also paid for all the ROW properties and spent for the transfer of vital utilities as well as the reconstruction of three bridges, in order to complete Skyway 3.

“The alignment for this connection to the NLEX connector project, which the Metro Pacific Tollways Group is building, was supposed to be built together with Section 2 of Skyway 3 in the Nagtahan to Sta. Mesa area. However, about two years since we first worked on workable areas for Skyway 3, the ROW issue in section 2 threatened to stall the project. That is why we proposed to realign Skyway 3 along the San Juan River, so that the project could be completed faster and provide a solution to traffic—not cause more of it,”Ang explained.

He added: “To show our commitment to complete the connection, even if the main alignment was already moved to San Juan River, we signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). We basically already committed the budget for the ROW acquisition—we will pay for it—and we will complete this section within 24 months.”

Ideally, the connection would be complete before or by the time the NLEX connector road is completed.

Ang said the even as the company negotiates for the settlement of ROW issues, it has already started work on available areas and has employed a ‘just-in-time’ sequence, anticipating the timely delivery of the ROW.

“Originally, this was supposed to be delivered December 2020, but it’s now pushed back. But we want to assure the public and government that we will do everything to complete it in less than 24 months, once we get the ROW,” Ang added.

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