THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it expects to sign a contract with a private partner for the P11.5-billion Kennon Road rehabilitation project in April, which will result in its modernization and reconfigure it as a commercially operated toll road.

The feasibility study was still being finalized as of July, the DPWH said on its website.

A tender for the public-private partnership (PPP) project was expected to take place between July this year and March 2023.

Kennon Road links the Luzon lowlands to Benguet Province.

“The project involves the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and improvement of Kennon Road to prevent road slope disasters such as soil collapse, rock fall, road slip, landslide, and river erosion that frequently occur along this road,” the DPWH said.

Kennon Road offers the shortest route from Rosario, La Union to Baguio City, with a total length of 33.7 kilometers.

The DPWH expects civil works to cost P11 billion, and the acquisition of right of way P550 million.

“At the end of the rehabilitation or reconstruction, the project is expected to reduce travel time from Rosario to Baguio City from one hour to only 30 minutes,” the DPWH said.

It is also expected to reduce travel time from Manila to Baguio City from four hours to three hours and 30 minutes via North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway and Kennon Road.

At the same time, the project is expected to “contribute to the growth of the region’s tourism industry and related business activities, including their expansion to remote communities near the project area.”

The current administration has identified the Kennon Road rehabilitation as among its priority PPP projects.

Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan has said that the Marcos administration will work to attract more investors to its infrastructure program through PPPs. — Arjay L. Balinbin