Story & photo by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes
IN a recent ocular inspection of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax) project site in Laguna, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said, “We asked Metro Pacific Investments Corp. [MPIC] if we can expedite it to December 2018 so we have a Christmas gift for the motorists. The original target was to open it in February next year, as a Valentine’s Day gift. But I said, it is more proper to give it as a Christmas present.”
The first 7 kilometers of Calax—which runs from the Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna, to Laguna Boulevard—is deemed targeted to be completed by December of this year instead of the initial goal of February 2019.
In total, this toll road is a 44.6-kilometer, four-lane toll road between the Cavite Expressway in Kawit, Cavite, and the South Luzon Expressway (Slex)-Mamplasan Interchange.
The whole Calax project, which will have eight interchanges and one main toll barrier, is foreseen to reduce travel time from Cavitex to Slex by 45 minutes.
“The road-construction project from Tirona Highway to the end of Greenfield near Mamplasan Exit in Laguna will be closely monitored so that by 2020, our travel time from Cavitex to Slex will be reduced to only 45 minutes,” Villar added.
The said project is part of the closed system modern tolled expressway awarded by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to private concessionaire MPCala Holdings Inc. of the Metro Pacific Group.
“The objective here is to decongest roads leading up to Metro Manila, especially in this part of Cavite. You know traffic in Metro Manila is very dense and very soon congestion will go here. In fact, we can already see that in the toll plazas,” Holdings President Luigi Bautista said. “It also aims to link Metro Manila to Cavite as well as Laguna.”
For him, the said flagship toll road being built in partnership with the government is a connection that will very much aid the growth in these areas.
“If link is being made to these parts, motorists and any road user will eventually see progress,” he said.
“Calax will be one of the most advanced highway in the Philippines. It is expected to ease traffic congestion along Governor’s Drive, Aguinaldo Highway and Santa Rosa Tagaytay Road,” Villar, divulged, further supporting Bautista’s statement.
“The 44.6-kilometer road project will connect nearby industrial zones to the capital of one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies.”
It was to be remembered that back in March of 2017 MPCala signed a P7.2-billion agreement with DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) for the construction of the 18-km Laguna side of CALAX.
For the 27-km Cavite side, on the other hand, they hired the services of Australia’s Leighton Holdings in a deal worth P7.3 billion.
On top of the project’s P35.42-billion construction cost, the company shelled out the competitive premium bid of P27.3 billion to win the CALAX contract.
With this, MPCala will operate and maintain CALAX for 35 years before turning it over to the government’s hands after the term.
“As of now, the government has delivered about 60 percent right-of-way for the entire toll-road project,” the DPWH head honcho said.
“We are scheduled to finish by 2020, but before that we plan to open the roads by sections. So this 7 km portion we intend to finish by end of this year. Right behind me is the expressway bridge number 14,” doled out Bautista, referring to the structures being built within the area.
“Right now, we’re building about eight structures within this stretch. And all of the bridges being done right now are being built simultaneously so contractor has mobilized for each of the seven bridges.
For them, they want everything to be finished as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. “Board piles are already being built and the columns are being poured. Pretty soon, by around May, we will see the bridge eventually taking shape.”