A CONSORTIUM COMPOSED of the Lopez and Consunji groups and Spain’s Acciona Construccion S.A. has bagged the P22.6-billion contract to build and design the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx), the Metro Pacific group’s first tollway project in the Visayas.

In a statement on Monday, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC) said the Cebu Link Joint Venture (CLJV) was issued a notice of award for the “design and build” contract for the bridge that will connect Cebu City to Cordova in Mactan island.

“(CCLEC) issued the Notice of Award to CLJV on Nov. 23, 2017 at an agreed contract amount of P22.6 billion,” the subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) said.

CLJV is the joint venture company of Acciona, D.M.Consunji, Inc. and Lopez-led First Balfour, Inc., which CCLEC said all have “proven track records in major infrastructure projects.”

“We are delighted to be part of this landmark project. We have put together a very experienced team, and are looking forward to working closely together with the customer to deliver a new toll bridge that will benefit both local communities and the Philippines,” Acciona Director of Singapore and Southeast Asia Ruben Camba was quoted as saying in a statement.

Under a joint venture agreement with the local governments of Cebu City and Cordova Municipality, CCLEC will build, operate and maintain the 8.5-kilometer toll bridge.

“We are very confident that we can deliver a quality state-of-the-art bridge that will provide not just travel efficiency but also drive economic growth and productivity in the entire Visayas region, and improve the overall welfare of the Cebuanos,” CCLEC President and General Manager Allan Alfon was quoted as saying in a statement.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony for the project in Cordova, Cebu in March.

CCLEx will have two lanes in each direction. It will have a main navigation span bridge, as well as viaduct approach bridges, a causeway, roadway, and toll facilities.

The toll bridge is expected to serve at least 40,000 vehicles and help decongest traffic in the two existing bridges between Mactan and Cebu.

“We are happy to be given this opportunity to bring to Cebu and share with the Cebuanos and the people in the Visayas in general, our company’s expertise in building and operating world-class highways and bridges to create more opportunities and spur economic growth,” MPTC President and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco said.

The CCLEX is the first tollway project of Metro Pacific group in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, as it expands its tollway presence around the country.

It currently operates the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and the Manila-Cavite Expressway, and is currently constructing the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX).

Last month, MPTC announced it has increased its stake in Indonesian firm Nusantara Infrastructure, further expanding its presence in Southeast Asia.

Mr. Franco earlier said MPTC will be raising about P50 billion from bank loans next year to finance major toll road projects, including the CCLEx, as well as the CALAX, NLEx-SLEx Connector Road, and C-5 Link Expressway.

MPIC is 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. — Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo