Public Works Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan speaks during a press briefing in Malacañang, March 14, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will pursue more than 70,000 projects worth about P890 billion this year, including a bridge project connecting Bataan and Cavite provinces.

The government is planning to begin the construction of the P175-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge by the latter part of 2023, DPWH Secretary Manuel M. Bonoan said during a Palace briefing after a meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. 

Mr. Bonoan said the detailed engineering design for the 32-kilometer-long, four-lane, cable-stayed bridge project, which will be funded through official development assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is now 70% complete.

“We told the President it would be ready within the year, to break ground and (start the) implementation of this very significant bridge,” he said.

Mr. Bonoan said the bridge will be built across Manila Bay and will go through Corregidor Island. It will start in Mariveles, Bataan and end in Naic, Cavite.

The DPWH is aiming to finish the project within five years. “We’ll try to have this completed before the term of the President ends (by mid-2028),” he said.

Mr. Bonoan said the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge project is significant because it will give a big boost to the economic activity in Luzon.

The ADB, which will extend a loan to the Philippines for the bridge project, has indicated that the economic rate of return of the bridge is more than 25%.

“The growth corridor is in the southern part of Metro Manila and the other growth corridor is in the north of Manila. With this bridge, I think we will have better access between these two,” Mr. Bonoan said.

The government also aims to break ground on other bridge projects this year, including six that will be constructed across Pasig River in Metro Manila.

Three of the six bridge projects would also be funded through assistance from the ADB, while the other three will be funded through loans from the Exim Bank of China.

“There are many other projects that we presented to the President that are for groundbreaking,” the DPWH chief said, adding that 2023 will see the start of building projects in several health specialty centers in Quezon City.

“All these are actually going to be presented for groundbreaking with the President before the State-of-the-Nation Address (in July).”

The list of over 70,000 projects also includes school projects to be jointly implemented with the Department of Education, and farm-to-market roads with the Department of Agriculture, among others.

“We have been in touch with the Department of Transportation with their commuter rail projects and subway station. We will be providing necessary access roads to these stations,” Mr. Bonoan said.

The government is also aiming to start work on segments of big infrastructure projects financed through public-private partnerships this year. Mr. Bonoan said this includes the eight-kilometer NLEX-SLEX Connector project, which “will be ready for inauguration” before the Holy Week, and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway project, which is “also ready for inauguration before the State-of-the-Nation Address of the President in June.”

At the briefing, Mr. Bonoan also touted the agency’s accomplishments during the first six months of the Marcos administration, including road work on about 1,500 kilometers of major and local roads, 161 bridge projects, and 851 flood control projects. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza