THE feasibility study for the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx) is now expected to be submitted in the third quarter to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said the delay is due to the additional work needed in regard to finalizing the road’s alignment.

Secretary Mark A. Villar said on Wednesday: “It’s going to be done third quarter of this year… Paglabas ng FS, isa-submit na namin kaagad sa NEDA (After the feasibility study, we’ll submit it to NEDA right away),” he told reporters on Wednesday after inspecting the C5 South Link Project in Taguig City.

“The expressway is about 220 kilometers. It’s a big project… It’s very complicated. There will be bridges too. It’s really long,” he added.

In February, DPWH Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Director Alex G. Bote said the agency is hoping to submit the QBEx feasibility study to NEDA in March. At the time, the road was expected to run between Lucena City and San Fernando, Camarines Sur, which is near Naga.

In a text message on Sunday, Mr. Bote said the alignment of QBEx may still change until the detailed engineering design is completed, which is the next step after NEDA evaluates the plans.

“Available alignment (conceptual) for QBEx still has a chance of moving/changing, kasi magkaron lang talaga yan ng finality ‘pag may detailed engineering design na [because it will only have finality once there’s a detailed engineering design]. Now, FS for QBEx is ongoing,” he said.

Once the DPWH finishes the feasibility study, the NEDA will determine the cost of the project and its mode of financing. Mr. Bote earlier said it may take a public-private partnership scheme, financing from official development assistance (ODA) or the general appropriations act (GAA), or a mix of any of the three modes. — Denise A. Valdez