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NLEx-Mindanao Ave. road link in place by mid-year

Traversing Metro Manila could soon become faster and easier, with Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. on Tuesday saying it was on track to finishing a road that will link Mindanao Ave. to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx). Metro Pacific Tollways President Ramoncito S. Fernandez, in an interview, said the firm was "confident... [the road will be] in place before midyear." Romeo Momo, undersecretary for Luzon operations of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), said in a separate interview that an April target had been set to make the road — dubbed Segment 8.1 — usable by the public. "Coming from the C5 road [in Quezon City] going to the NLEx, it will cut travel time by more than half and hour," he said. Segment 8.1 comprises a 2.7-kilometer road with 2x2 lanes, a two-way service road, and a cloverleaf interchange north of the Balintawak toll plaza. Once completed, the toll-free stretch is expected to help decongest traffic in Metro Manila as this will serve as an alternative to traffic-heavy EDSA for motorists going to the NLEx. Metro Pacific, said Fernandez, is not stopping with Segment 8.1. He said the group was hoping to secure the right of way for Segments 9 and 10 which will connect the NLEx to MacArthur Highway in Valenzuela and Manila's Port Area. "We are busy looking at our expansion plans for our Segments 9 and 10. We hope to get the right of way for Segment 9 within the year because the internal targets of the company is to start the construction... this year," Fernandez said. The three-kilometer Segment 9 will be a four-lane expressway while the five-kilometer Segment 10 will be a four-lane elevated road. Momo said acquiring the right of way for Segment 9 would cost the government around P1 billion, adding that they are already in the final stages of identifying the affected properties. Securing the right of way for Segment 10, meanwhile, will cost another P2 billion or more, he added. "Hopefully, there are no long legal battles for the affected properties so that we can immediately turn over the right of way," he said. Construction of Segments 9 and 10 will cost Metro Pacific around P10 billion and take some two to two and a half years to complete, Fernandez said. Also in the pipeline is a 13-kilometer elevated four-lane expressway that will connect the NLEx to the South Luzon Expressway. "We will reiterate our master plan which is we want to be present in the north and the south and connect them," Fernandez said. The road projects are estimated to cost the company some P38 billion over a five-year period. Metro Pacific is currently in talks with Indonesian-led Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. for construction of the $192-million stage two of the South Metro Manila Skyway. The Pangilinan-led firm has also initiated talks with state-controlled Philippine National Construction Corp. for the latter's stake in the South Luzon Tollways Corp. Metro Pacific Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan is also chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT). Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of the Beneficiary Trust Fund of PLDT, holds a minority stake in BusinessWorld. — KJRL, BusinessWorld