EIGHT infrastructure projects worth P547.6 billion bagged final approval from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board on Wednesday, including proposals for new bridges, an elevated monorail, and pedestrian walkways along Metro Manila’s main highway.

In a statement, NEDA said the Board, chaired by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, gave the go-signal for six projects to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), including the P189.53-billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges and the P175.7-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge (BCIB).

The PGN Island Bridges project involves the construction of a 32.47-kilometer (km), four-lane, two sea-crossing bridges that will connect Panay, Guimaras and Negros islands.

The BCIB project aims to reduce traffic congestion in Metro Manila by building a 32.15-km, four-lane bridge over Manila Bay from Mariveles, Bataan to Naic, Cavite.

A P76.41-billion project involving the construction of a new Cebu-Mactan bridge and coastal road was also approved by the NEDA Board, along with the P28.26-billion Davao City Coastal Bypass Road Project, including Bucana bridge.

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

The NEDA Board also gave the green light for the P57.07-billion Metro Rail Transit Line 4 (MRT-4) and the P8.51-billion EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) Greenways project.

The MRT-4 is expected to cut travel time between Metro Manila and Rizal province. The 15.56-kilometer elevated monorail transit system will begin at the N. Domingo Station in Quezon City and end at the proposed Taytay Station near the Taytay Diversion Road-Manila East Road rotunda in Rizal. It will run through Ortigas Avenue, Ortigas Avenue Extension and Taytay Diversion Road.

The EDSA Greenways project involves the construction of five kilometers of covered and elevated walkways in four areas along the main highway.

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

“These projects are the building blocks of our people’s dreams and aspirations. As such, we intend to roll out as many as we can to ease congestion and spread growth throughout the country,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia was quoted as saying.

The P6.25-billion Maritime Safety Enhancement program by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) was also greenlit by the NEDA Board.

At the same time, the NEDA Board also okayed the proposals to change the scope and cost of the Davao City bypass construction project (P46.8 billion), as well as to extend the loan validity and the implementation period and increase the cost of the Samar Pacific Coastal road project (P1.13 billion). — B.M.Laforga