By Ruben Veloria and Marna Dagumboy Del Rosario
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The construction of the P1.6-billion Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX) Capacity Expansion project starts in full blast with the groundbreaking held on Thursday at Tipo Expressway here.
NLEX Corporation chief operating officer Raul Ignacio said completion of the project will shorten the travel time from Hermosa town in Bataan to Subic Freeport from one hour to merely 10 minutes. “And that means comfort mobility and more fun going to Subic,” he said.
The SFEX Capacity Expansion project comprises the construction of two additional expressway lanes, two new bridges, and a new tunnel, increasing road capacity with the addition of one lane on each side of the expressway.
Among the new features to be added in the expressway include the installation of more LED lights to improve motorists’ visibility at night, raising of Maritan Highway-Rizal Highway-Tipo Road Junction that is usually severed by flooding during rainy days and high tides.
“One of the key drivers of economic growth is the network of high-quality roads. The NLEX Corp., through NLEX and SCTEX, and the soon- to-expanded SFEX not only intends to accelerate development but also hopes to encourage travel convenience and road safety,” according to NLEX Corp. president and general manager J. Luigi Bautista.
The project is expected to be completed by September next year.
For SBMA, Wilma Eisma, chairman and administrator, said the project will help sustain Subic’s position as a globally competitive trade and tourism hub.
“This road expansion will complement SBMA’s infrastructure development program and promotion of Subic as an ideal shipping gateway for business in Central Luzon and Northern Luzon, as well,” Eisma said.
Representative Jeffrey Khonghun, on the other hand, expressed the belief that improvements in the road network will significantly benefit the province of Zambales.
“Because of the smoother and easier travel that this project will bring, our province will be more viable for local and foreign investments,” Khonghun said.
Following the groundbreaking ceremony, a ceremonial tree planting was also held to signify NLEX Corporation’s commitment to plant more trees in its bid to replace those affected by the ongoing road project.
“Environmental awareness has always been part of our sustainable development strategy that is why we will conduct tree planting activities in the coming months to help reduce carbon emissions and contribute to cleaner air and healthier ecology along the SFEX,” Bautista said.
The NLEX Corporation is a subsidiary of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (PNA)