THE GOVERNMENT and its private partners are set to break ground on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-Light Rail Transit (LRT) common station project on Sept. 29.
“We will break ground on Sept. 29,” Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters in Filipino on the sidelines of the signing of an agreement for integrating payment systems on Luzon tollways.
Mr. Tugade said that there are no more hurdles before construction can start.
“We have unified the stakeholders… If a groundbreaking is scheduled, it means the project has been studied, it will go through,” Mr. Tugade said.
The common station project aims to link three major commuter rail networks traversing Metro Manila and nearby areas — the LRT-1, MRT-3, and the MRT-7, which is currently undergoing construction and is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2019.
The common station project has been delayed by legal disputes.
In January, the government and private companies involved in the project signed a memorandum of agreement after years of deadlock on the issue of the location of the common station.
The agreement was signed by Mr. Tugade; Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar; Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan; SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Director Hans T. Sy; Ayala Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jaime Zobel de Ayala; and San Miguel Corp. President and CEO Ramon S. Ang.
Under the agreement, the common station will be built at a compromise site near the original 2009 site in front of SM Annex (North EDSA) and the 2014 location near Ayala-owned TriNoMa Mall.
The Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) and SM Prime in 2009 entered into an agreement for the common station to be located at a junction near SM City North EDSA. In 2013, the then Department of Transportation and Communications, citing construction costs, decided to transfer the common station to a site in front of TriNoMa.
SM Prime then sued the government for breach of contract. In July 2014, SM Prime secured a Supreme Court (SC) stay order stopping the transfer of the common station’s site to TriNoma. The SC in May 2016 refused the government’s plea to lift the halt order.
The DoTr previously said that SM Prime, DoTr, and LRTA will file a joint manifestation with the SC advising the Court of the agreement to address the issue of the temporary restraining order. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo