By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

NLEX Corp., operator of North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), expects higher traffic volume this year, as quarantine restrictions are relaxed further.

“We expect traffic growth of 25% in NLEX and 23% in SCTEX versus the 2020 average,” Romulo S. Quimbo, Jr., NLEX Corp. senior vice-president for communications, told BusinessWorld in a phone message on Oct. 15.

NLEX had an average daily traffic of 235,000 in September, up from 230,000 in the same month in 2020.

Meanwhile, SCTEX’s average daily traffic hit 49,000 last month, up from 44,000 in September of the previous year.

“It will rise further as 4Q (fourth quarter) is seasonally higher. December is peak month with estimated traffic at 288,000 in NLEX and 70,000 in SCTEX,” Mr. Quimbo said.

NLEX Corp. is a unit of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC).

On Saturday, NLEX Corp. announced that newly installed acting secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Roger G. Mercado recently inspected the NLEX Connector “to familiarize himself with the construction progress and right-of-way requirements” of the project.

“NLEX Corp. is accelerating the construction of the NLEX Connector as the DPWH remains committed to fast-track the right-of-way delivery so motorists can soon benefit from this high impact infrastructure that will provide ease of travel and support economic growth,” the company said in an e-mailed statement.

The company targets to complete the first five kilometers of the P23-billion connector road project in the first quarter 2022.

Caloocan Interchange to España Boulevard is the first section of the project.

The eight-kilometer toll road project aims to link the tail of NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 at Circumferential Road 3 (C3), Caloocan City to Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

MPTC is the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), 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.