By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

TUNNELING works for a proposed 45.6-kilometer bypass road in Davao region is expected to be finished this year, keeping the overall project on track for completion by 2028, the public works department said.

“The 2.3-kilometer tunnel is almost done, (and may be ready) by the end of the year,” Emil K. Sadain, senior undersecretary at the Department of Public Works and Highways, told BusinessWorld in Singapore. 

“We call it a twin-tube tunnel. That’s a mountain tunnel — the first long tunnel that we will have in the Philippines,” he said. 

Under the P70.82-billion project, the Philippines seeks to establish a bypass road through the mountains connecting Davao City via the tunnel and Panabo City in Davao del Norte.

The Davao City Bypass Construction Project includes six separate contracts, three of which are funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The other three are financed by the government, Mr. Sadain said.

“We are progressively working towards full completion by 2028.”

The project was initially implemented under the former administration and had faced several challenges including right-of-way issues, unforeseen ground conditions, excessive water ingress, and pandemic delays — which have all been addressed.

The Davao City Bypass Construction Project is among the 14 foreign-assisted infrastructure projects approved by the National Economic Development Authority Board that are under construction, with the 14 having a total cost of P237.742 billion.

Mr. Sadain said the detailed design for a similar project in the northern Luzon will begin this year, potentially making the proposed 23-kilometer Dalton Bypass Road the country’s second tunnel road project. 

“For the Dalton Bypass project, detailed design will start this year. And civil works could begin in the second half of next year,” he said. 

“We hope to achieve substantial completion towards 2028.”

The project, which will bypass the Dalton Pass, which is the current route from Central Luzon into the Cagayan Valley. It seeks to connect the Tayabo district of San Jose, Nueva Ecija to Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

The proposed four-lane bypass road, which is also funded by JICA, involves the construction of 6.1 kilometers of twin tunnels and 10 bridges with a total length of 5.8 kilometers.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sadain said a bridge that seeks to connect Tangub City, Misamis Occidental with Tubod, Lanao del Norte, financed by South Korea, is set to be completed by August.

“By the end of July, it will be completed. So by August, we can do the inauguration. The President will inaugurate the project.”

The 3.17-kilometer Panguil Bay Bridge Project is funded by a loan agreement between the Philippine government and the Korean Import-Export Bank (Korea Eximbank).

The bridge will allow travelers to shorten their route by directly crossing Panguil Bay, a long, thin inlet between the two provinces. The current route requires motorists to traverse the bay’s southwestern shore.

The Marcos administraton’s flagship infrastructure project list includes 185 projects worth P9.1 trillion.

The Philippines seeks to annually spend 5% to 6% of its economic output on infrastructure projects.