THE government expects to cut travel time to Baguio City by another 30 minutes with the opening of another segment of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEx) in the first half (1H) of 2020.

The Sison, Pangasinan-Rosario, La Union segment of the northern highway is now on trial run, during which toll won’t be collected, Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said in a statement.

The four-kilometer segment could also ease traffic along the Manila North Road to Kennon Road on the way to the Philippines’ summer capital, he added.

“Considering that Baguio is a go-to holiday destination, we opened the segment to provide ease to our tourists who want to experience the beauty of the City of Pines,” Mr. Villar said.

“While significantly cutting their travel time, we also want to ensure that the expressway is in its utmost quality for their safety,” he added.

San Miguel Corp. is the private concessionaire for the 89.3-kilometer TPLEx project, which runs from Tarlac City to Rosario, La Union.

The highway is divided into three segments: the stretch from Tarlac City to Rosales, Pangasinan; then from there to Urdaneta City, Pangasinan; and from there to Rosario, La Union.

Meanwhile the Public Works department said the board of the National Economic and Development Authority was likely to approve San Miguel’s unsolicited proposal to extend the TPLEx by the first quarter of next year.

The company submitted its P23.95-billion unsolicited proposal to the DPWH in February to extend the TPLEx from Rosario to San Juan, La Union.

The 59.4-kilometer extension includes three segments: 18 kilometers from Rosario to Tubao, 23 kilometers from Tubao to Naguilian and 18.4 kilometers from Naguilian to San Juan. — Arjay L. Balinbin