PNoy opens TPLEx

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    CLARK FREEPORT – Pres. Aquino inaugurated Monday the Tarlac portion of the P11-billion Tarlac-Pangasinan-
    La Union Expressway (TPLEx), the country’s first all-Filipino-funded and implemented expressway project of such magnitude.

    The President, his party, and other government and private-sector officials held a ceremonial drive through the
    expressway along Barangay Guiteb in Ramos Tarlac, before he unveiled a project marker at the toll operation
    center in Barangay San Pascual in Tarlac City.

    The finished section of the TPLEx runs through Tarlac City, Gerona and Paniqui in Tarlac province. Once completed by 2015, the 88.8-kilometer TPLEx would cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to only one hour.

    “It is seen as a catalyst of growth, boosting tourism, trade, and agriculture in central and northern Luzon. By the time it is complete, it would have also generated about 12,000 jobs,” the regional Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga said.

    Financing for the project was formalized through a P11.5-billion term-loan facility among the lenders and the project’s proponent Private Infra Dev Corp. (PIDC), an all-Filipino consortium led by Rapid Thoroughfares, Inc., DMCI Group and D.M. Wenceslao & Associates, Inc. Apart from BDO, the other participating banks were Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines. PIDC is a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp. (SMC).

    “In terms of construction, we are ahead of schedule. We are on track to delivering the entire length of TPLEX as early as 2015,” said SMC President- COO Ramon Ang. A total of 23 kilometers of the TPLEx have so far been
    opened to motorists, including the section inaugurated. Last October, PIDC opened the project’s 17-kilometer Phase 1A from Tarlac City to Victoria, Pura, then Gerona, for free to the public.

    PIDC said currently, work is ongoing on the 27-kilometer stretch from Paniqui to Moncada in Tarlac, then Carmen in Pangasinan, including the construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct. In a statement, Ang said
    that “while this portion is slated for completion by December 2014, we expect to deliver as early as April next year,” adding that “by then, the twohour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen will be cut to only thirty minutes.”

    “Right now, we are waiting for the completion of the acquisition of the right-of- way for the 13.72-kilometer portion
    from the north bank of the Agno River up to Urdaneta. But our government is working on that. We are confident
    that we will complete this section up to Urdaneta as early as December 2014,” Ang added. He also said that the remaining 25.83-kilometer section from Urdaneta to Rosario, La Union, will be completed the following year, a full three years ahead of the original 2018 target.

    PIDC said the TPLEx, one of several infrastructure projects in San Miguel’s portfolio and its first greenfield tollway project, is seen as a vital road project in Luzon, connecting the central and northern Luzon provinces to
    Manila and beyond through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway and the North Luzon Expressway. From endto-
    end, the TPLEx will traverse 17 towns and the cities of Tarlac and Urdaneta across four provinces: Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija.

    Originally designed as a two-lane road, SMC decided to upgrade the project to four lanes to ensure road safety
    and in anticipation of future traffic growth. It can be expanded up to eight lanes in the future, PIDC said. PIDC said “the TPLEX boasts of many modern features found in world-class toll ways, including a fleet of patrol cars and emergency assistance vehicles that can respond to motorists anywhere along the stretch within 10 minutes.”

    It also noted that “the TPLEX also comes with concrete barriers, guardrails, lighting and cameras in all toll plazas; signs, and pavement markings with powdered glass beads for enhanced visibility. Speed sensors are also deployed to ensure motorists keep to the 100-kilometers per hour limit.”

    Toll plazas in major entry points are also equipped with electronic card dispensing machines. All installations will be fiber optic and internet-enabled. Culverts were also constructed at strategic points throughout the expressway to ensure that it will be flood-free, PIDC also noted.

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