By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
NLEX Corp., a unit of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), hopes to start the construction of a P5.5-billion third Candaba Viaduct later this year, its President and General Manager said.
The Candaba Viaduct is a causeway allowing motorists to traverse the section of the swamp between Pulilan, Bulacan and Apalit, Pampanga.
“What we are busy with today, apart from the NLEX Connector project, is we are bidding out the Candaba Viaduct, (which) we call the third viaduct,” NLEX Corp.’s J. Luigi L. Bautista told BusinessWorld in a chance interview.
“Today, you have the northbound viaduct and the southbound viaduct, right? What we will do is we will construct a third viaduct in the middle,” he added.
He said two contractors were vying for the project. “We are in the process of selecting the contractor.”
Construction is expected to take two years, “if not in the last part of the third quarter, maybe early fourth quarter of this year,” Mr. Bautista noted.
The viaduct is a bottleneck for vehicles traveling north and south along NLEX, where the available lanes narrow from the normal width on dry land.
The company is also planning to start this year the construction of a two-kilometer expressway section between the Mindanao Avenue toll plaza and Quirino Highway in Novaliches, Quezon City.
It is currently awaiting approval from the Toll Regulatory Board for the implementation of the first section of the proposed P92-billion NLEX-CAVITEX Port Expressway Link project.
The 15-kilometer (km) NLEX-CAVITEX Port Expressway Link project was originally a joint unsolicited proposal with the Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways in 2019 to extend the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
MPTC’s capital expenditure budget for the year has been set at P32 billion. It recently opened the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway project in Cebu.
MPTC expects the completion of NLEX Connector Phase 1, Cavite-Laguna Expressway – Cavite Segment, NLEX Segment 8.2 Section 1A, NLEX Connector Phase 2, and CAVITEX C5 Link projects this year.
MPTC is the tollway unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc.
Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.