The much-awaited traffic-busting infrastructure that will provide an integrated and all-elevated expressway connection between the North and South Luzon expressways is underway as DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar inspected the NLEX Connector construction site along the Philippine National Railways tracks in Caloocan City together with officials of NLEX Corporation and construction company D.M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI).

Earlier, NLEX Corp. formally awarded the main works contract to DMCI for the first five-kilometer section of the NLEX Connector from Grace Park, Caloocan City to España St., Sampaloc, Manila.

Spanning a total of 8 kilometers, the full NLEX Connector will be an all-weather, all vehicle class elevated expressway that will traverse the new Caloocan Interchange in 5th Avenue/C3 Road in Caloocan City pass through España, eventually link up with the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 at PUP Sta. Mesa in Manila.

DPWH Secretary Villar was also present during the formal awarding of the main civil works contract to DMCI together with Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) President and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco, NLEX Corporation President and General Manager J. Luigi L. Bautista, NLEX Corporation Chief Operating Officer (COO) Raul L. Ignacio, DMCI Associate Managing Director Christopher R. Rodriguez, DMCI SVP for Business Strategy and Development Rebecca E. Civil, and DMCI VP and Infrastructure Business Unit Head Dwight Taa-la.

The contract covers the main civil works for the Caloocan-España section. The NLEX Connector will continue the NLEX southward from NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 from the new Caloocan Interchange. The project will utilize portions of the existing right-of-way of the Philippine National Railways (PNR).

The PNR right-of-way will be shared by the NLEX Connector project and the North South Commuter Railway (NSCR), currently also under construction.

Just before the awarding, DPWH Secretary Villar spearheaded the detailed inspection of the project site and urged the fast tracking of the turnover of the Right of Way. Secretary Villar said, “We are committed to accelerating the ROW acquisition in order to build traffic solutions for our motorists.”

Also present at the future site of Caloocan Interchange were other Cabinet Secretaries of the “Build Build Build” team. The new Caloocan Interchange will serve as a strategic converging point for the 5.65-km NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10, the 2.6-km R-10 section, and the 8-km NLEX Connector.

Since its groundbreaking last February 28, 2019 witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte, several construction milestones have been achieved and the engineering works have progressed for this elevated expressway.

“Upon full completion in 2021, the NLEX Connector will significantly cut travel time from NLEX to SLEX by at least 60 percent. Instead of the usual 2 hours, travel time will now be reduced to about 20 minutes. It will also provide improved accessibility for cargo trucks bound for the Manila Ports (North and South Harbor) and the international airports such as NAIA and Clark.” Villar said.

For his part, Bautista said, “We are confident that our team, our contractor, and our partners in government will work together to deliver high quality elevated expressway. We are looking forward to provide further convenience to our motorists as the NLEX Connector aims to decongest major thoroughfares such EDSA and C5.”

Seen as a crucial infrastructure needed to solve traffic congestion in Metro Manila, the NLEX Connector is also expected to stimulate economic development in Manila, Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas, as well as its surrounding areas.

Around 35,000 motorists, especially cargo trucks, who are expected to benefit from the project, will be spared using Metro Manila’s congested city roads since they will traverse their routes mostly above the PNR alignment.

The NLEX Connector is one of the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects awarded by the Duterte administration in 2016.