THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) hopes to submit next month feasibility studies for a Bicol road project and the fourth Cebu-Mactan bridge.

Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar told reporters last week the department is preparing the final drafts of the feasibility studies for the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx) and another Cebu-Mactan bridge.

“Those are two of the major projects that we’re targeting to submit to NEDA (the National Economic and Development Authority) within the year,” he said.

The QBEx spans some 220 kilometers from Pagbilao, Quezon to the Maharlika Highway in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, near Naga City. The DPWH said the highway hopes to bypass current roads which pass through town centers.

“(Our target for completing the studies is) within this month or early next month… then we’ll submit it to NEDA,” Mr. Villar said.

The department earlier said that while the approval of QBEx is still up to NEDA, including the indicative cost of the project, what is wants is to have the project financed by various modes.

This means that the government may shoulder a portion of the expressway cost through the general appropriations act (GAA), but it may also tap foreign help through official development assistance (ODA) or the private sector through a public-private partnership (PPP).

For the “fourth bridge” in Cebu, Mr. Villar said the feasibility study is being led by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Actually it’s with JICA. Even the full-blown feasibility study is also ongoing… By November malalaman na natin (we’ll know),” he said.

The fourth bridge will complement the current Mactan-Mandaue and Marcelo Fernan bridges, which connect Mandaue City to Lapu-Lapu City in Metro Cebu.

The “third bridge” is the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx), an 8.5-kilometer toll bridge project currently being built by Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC).

UnlikE CCLEx, Mr. Villar said the fourth bridge will be a DPWH project and will focus on creating links between Mactan and the northern part of Cebu.

MPTC is the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of the 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. — Denise A. Valdez