President Benigno Aquino III expressed confidence that the 88.85-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) will not only boost tourism in picturesque locations in Northern Luzon but would also stimulate further economic activity in this part of the archipelago.
“(With TPLEX), areas like Hundred Islands suddenly become that much more accessible. Baguio and the surrounding areas in Cordillera suddenly seems like but a short trip away,” Aquino said during Monday’s official opening of the Tarlac City-Gerona-Paniqui part.
“Projects like these opened up more and more possibilities for our countrymen to engage in gainful productive and progressive livelihood. Government can do all of these at some point in time, but that some point in time might take 10 generations to accomplish something like this. Together with private partnership, who believe in the same vision that we have, then we will achieve the dreams sooner rather than later, and to that, really, it is truly a splendid Christmas gift,” the Chief Executive added.
The opening of Paniqui portion in Tarlac brings to 23 kilometers the total length of the TPLEX that is operational following the opening of the 17-kilometer Phase 1A from Tarlac City to Victoria, Pura, then Gerona initially for free to the public.
At present, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) through its subsidiary and TPLEX concessionaire- Private Infra Dev Corporation, Inc. (PIDC) is working on the 27-kilometer stretch from Paniqui to Moncada in Tarlac then Carmen in Pangasinan including the construction of the 950-meter Agno viaduct.
PIDC eyes an April 2014 completion of this section, ahead of its December 2014 estimate.
By then, the two-hour travel time from Tarlac to Carmen will be cut to only 30 minutes.
Moreover, the remaining 25.83-kilometer part from Urdaneta, Pangasinan to Rosario, La Union will be completed by 2015.
From end-to-end, TPLEX will traverse 17 towns and two cities in the provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union and Nueva Ecija.
It connects the Northern and Central provinces of Luzon to Metro Manila via the North Luzon and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways.
Originally designed as a two-lane road, SMC decided to upgrade the infrastructure to four lanes to ensure road safety and in anticipation of future traffic growth.
Once completed, it will cut travel time from Tarlac to La Union to only an hour from the present three and a half hours.(CLJD/PIA)