THE San Miguel Holdings Corp. (SMHC) may soon sign the contract for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) Extension, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center said. 

“The TPLEx is at the most advanced stage, we just finished the challenge process. They are supposed to sign (because) it has been awarded to them. The next step is after the contract award, contract signing,” PPP Center Deputy Executive Director Jeffrey I. Manalo told reporters over the weekend. 

In November, the National Economic and Development Authority board approved the comparative challenge for the TPLEx extension project, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said.

PPP Center said no parties have challenged the unsolicited proposal of SMHC. The company secured the original proponent status for the project in 2018. 

“Without a challenger, the project may be awarded to the original proponent as early as March 2024. Otherwise, the project is expected to be awarded by May 2024,” DPWH said. 

It added that civil works of the TPLEx extension can then proceed, which will take five years to complete. 

The TPLEx Extension project is a 59.4-kilometer four-lane toll road that starts from the last exit of TPLEx in Rosario, La Union, and terminates in San Juan, La Union.

Once completed, the TPLEx Extension project is expected to reduce travel time from Rosario to San Juan from 1.5 hours to around 40 minutes. — Ashley Erika O. Jose