By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

NLEX Corp. on Tuesday said it recently signed an agreement with China Road and Bridges Corp. for the civil works contract of the remaining three kilometers of its connector project in Manila.

The project is between the future España and Sta. Mesa interchanges, the second section of the eight-kilometer North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Connector.

In an e-mailed statement, the company said construction of the remaining three kilometers of the NLEX Connector project is “now underway.”

The entire NLEX Connector “extends the expressway southward from the NLEX Harbor Link Caloocan Interchange, 5th Avenue/C3 Road passing through España Blvd., R. Magsaysay Blvd., and eventually connecting to the Skyway Stage 3 within the vicinity of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Manila.”

The first section of the project, from Caloocan Interchange to España Boulevard, is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2022. It is now nearly 60% done, the company said.

“We are committed to provide the necessary right-of-way for this project as we target to complete this segment by end of 2022,” Public Works Secretary Roger G. Mercado said.

The project, which is expected to accommodate around 35,000 motorists, is seen to decongest local roads, as it aims to divert cargo trucks to the elevated expressway. Without a truck ban, the route will be available 24/7, according to the company.

“Upon completion, the NLEX Connector will enable Manila Ports to have a seamless north-south connection and provide further convenience to motorists with the decongestion of major thoroughfares like EDSA and C5,” Mr. Mercado noted.

For his part, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) President and Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo E. Franco said: “The Metro Pacific Group actively contributes to accelerating infrastructure development in the Philippines.”

“This new elevated expressway hopes to support the country’s economic recovery by helping reduce traffic congestion in the metro and offering those with private cars and commercial vehicles ease of travel,” he added.

Mr. Franco also expects the project to enhance accessibility to international airports such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport.

“[This will] help generate jobs, and stimulate development between Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces in the north and south,” he noted.

NLEX Corp. is under MPTC, the tollways 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.

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