SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) announced on Thursday that the new Kalaklan-Lighthouse Bridge, which has been under construction since June last year, will be opened to motorists and pedestrians starting July 5.
Lawyer Ramon Agregado, SBMA senior deputy administrator for support services, said the completion of the bridge project will give commuters and pedestrians a big relief.
The P200-million project involved the construction of a new two-lane bridge to replace the 50-year old span built by the US Navy, and the establishment of a security plaza, which will also house a Customs field office.
The Kalaklan Lighthouse Bridge, which is the free port’s gateway to the province of Zambales, is one of the four bridges connecting the freeport zone to Olongapo City.
This bridge, along with the Magsaysay (Main Gate) Bridge which leads to Magsaysay Drive, the entertainment and business district of Olongapo, was built by the U.S. Navy in the early 60’s.
The old bridges used to carry even heavy trucks and buses going in and out of the Subic free port, but inspections made in recent years showed they already have some severe structural defects due to strain over the years. Early last year, the SBMA resolved to replace the Kalaklan Bridge with a new one and also closed the Magsaysay Bridge to vehicular traffic.
The SBMA said that an average of 2,500 light vehicles and some 300pedestrians passed through the Kalaklan Bridge every day until it was closed to the public in February 2010 to pave way for the speedy construction of its replacement.
The closure, however, necessitated a rerouting of traffic through the Olongapo City proper, thereby causing heavy traffic in the area, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Moreover, travel time from the freeport to Subic, the first town in Zambales, took longer by about 30minutes.
“Starting July 5, however, the Kalaklan Lighthouse Bridge will help ease the traffic going to Zambales,” said Agregado.
He added that aside from the two-lane bridge with covered walkway, the Kalaklan Bridge project also includes a security plaza, spacious parking area for all types of vehicles, and an administration building that will accommodate SBMA offices for its Treasury Department, Law Enforcement Department, Seaport Department, as well as the Bureau of Customs.
The Kalaklan Bridge construction project is part of SBMA’s efforts to build vital infrastructure for the planned expansion of the Subic Freeport into nearby areas, such as Olongapo City and the towns of Zambales, Agregado also said.