GOVERNMENT economic managers are expected to go over 12 projects worth P652 billion this month as part of a plan to build growth centers in the countryside and expand development opportunities nationwide.

The board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) headed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte will review the projects, which include the extension of an elevated rail near the capital worth P49 billion, for approval in two weeks, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a mobile-phone message on Thursday.

“The approval of these projects is a pivotal step in fulfilling our thrust of fostering growth centers in the regions and expanding access to development opportunities throughout the country,” Mr. Pernia said in a separate statement.

The projects were approved at the Cabinet level of the NEDA Investment Coordination Committee last month.

Ten of the projects will cost about P557.4 billion. The two remaining projects are unsolicited proposals for the construction of international airports in Davao and Misamis Oriental, which cost P48.97 billion and P45.75 billion, respectively.

Among the 10 is the P49-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 4 (MRT-4) project, which is expected to cut travel time between Metro Manila and Rizal province.

The 15.56-kilometer elevated monorail transit system will start at the N. Domingo Station in Quezon City and end at the Taytay Diversion Road-Manila East Road rotunda in Taytay, Rizal. It will run through Ortigas Avenue, Ortigas Avenue Extension and Taytay Diversion Road.

Also included is the P8.51-billion EDSA Greenways project under the Department of Transportation, which involves building covered and elevated walkways along and leading to train stations along the main highway of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will finance both the MRT-4 and the EDSA Greenways projects, according to NEDA.

Meanwhile, a P6.25-billion Maritime Safety Enhancement Program by the Department of Transportation-Philippine Coast Guard will be enforced over four years to improve sea transportation.

Also up for approval by the NEDA board is the P175.7-billion Bataan-Cavite interlink bridge project. The 32.15-km four-lane bridge will start in Mariveles, Bataan province in the central Luzon, cross Manila Bay and end in Naic, Cavite province. It is expected to be finished in six years.

The Duterte government also plans to build a 3.3-km bridge with a 3.4-km elevated viaduct, with two lanes in each direction, and a 4.9-km four-lane coastal road with a 4.75-km elevated viaduct in Cebu province. The road project will cost P76.41 billion and will be funded through official development assistance.

Another project that will be up for approval is the Davao City coastal bypass road with the Bucana bridge project worth P28.26 billion, which will serve as an alternate route to the Davao-Cotabato Road and ABS-CBN Diversion Road to ease traffic congestion along busy intersections and the central business district, according to NEDA.

Meanwhile, a 35.64-km road and eight bridges will be built under the P5.89-billion Capas-Botolan road project, which will cut travel time between Tarlac and Zambales to one-and-a-half hours from four hours. The project is expected to start operating by 2025.

Also included is the P189.53-billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island bridge project that will link the three islands.

The NEDA board will also look at changes in the scope and cost of a supplemental loan for the Davao City bypass construction project, which has more than doubled to P42.84 billion. The board will also review a proposal to build an 11.3-km coastal road in Samar province. — Beatrice M. Laforga