FORMER PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is running for a congressional seat representing her home province Pampanga in the May elections, will push for an urban development plan that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists.

The envisioned Pampanga Megalopolis aims to position the province, located about 80 kilometers north of the capital, as the next business hub of the country to help decongest Metro Manila — offering a greener lifestyle in a “walkable” and “bikeable” urban area. 

“Roads should be designed with pedestrians as the top priority. A walkable city is a hallmark of modern cities,” Ms. Arroyo said in a statement on Sunday. 

The project, with urban planner Felino A. Palafox, Jr. tapped as designer, centers around the cities of Angeles, San Fernando, and Mabalacat City, and the surrounding towns of Porac, Lubao, Floridablanca and Guagua.

This “Pampanga Golden Triangle” covers the Clark Freeport Zone, where an international airport is located.

For transportation and mobility, new roads will be constructed such as a circumferential road that will interconnect the three cities and 19 municipalities of the province.

The plan also includes an intermodal mass transport system with 24-hour operations “to bring employees to tourist destinations and agro-industrial places,” she said.  

Among the priority tourism projects that will be developed are the Candaba Wetland and Nature Park, Floridablanca Astroscience Center, and Mt. Arayat Eco-Adventure Park.  

Toll expressways connect Pampanga to the capital as well as to Subic, which hosts a freeport zone and seaport. — Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan