By Arjay L. Balinbin

THE construction of Area A of the common station project in North Avenue, Quezon City is expected to begin this month, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said.

Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John R. Batan said the Ayala Corp. has completed Area B, where the concourses connecting Areas A and C of the common station project are located.

“Area B, tapos na ’yun (that’s done). For Area A, construction works will begin already, alam ko maghuhukay na ’yan sila sa EDSA by February or March (They’ll be digging on EDSA by February or March),” he told BusinessWorld in a recent interview.

BF Corp. and Foresight Development and Surveying Co. (BFC-FDSC) will construct Area A, where the platform and concourse for the Light Rail Transit (LRT)-1 and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 is to be located.

“They are in the process of completing their submission of the detailed engineering design, but since (the contract is) design-build, construction works will begin already,” Mr. Batan added.

The common station project aims to link four commuter train lines: LRT-1, MRT-3, MRT-7, and eventually, the Metro Manila Subway.

Area A, Mr. Batan said, is targeted for completion by the first quarter of 2021.

San Miguel Corp. is in charge of the construction of Area C, where the platform for MRT-7 is located.

“2021 ang partial operations ng MRT-7 (MRT-7 is targeted for partial operations in 2021); so we expect that by 2021, Areas A, B and C should all be completed and ready,” Mr. Batan said.

In January 2017, the government and private companies involved in the project signed a memorandum of agreement after years of deadlock on the matter of the common station’s location.

The agreement was signed by Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade; Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar; Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan; SM Prime Holdings, Inc. Director Hans T. Sy; Ayala Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jaime Zobel de Ayala; and San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang.

Under the agreement, the common station will be built at a compromise site near the original 2009 site in front of SM Annex (North EDSA) and the 2014 location near Ayala-owned TriNoma Mall.