06 February 2015

Nlex-SCTEx integration done by November

THE Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC) is aiming to complete the integration of the North Luzon Expressway (Nlex) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressways (SCTEx) by the fourth quarter this year, a senior official said.

This development came after the toll-road company and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) signed on Thursday the P650-million contract to link the two expressways, thereby making it faster for motorists to transfer from the Nlex) to the SCTEx and vice versa.

“Immediately after this signing, we will start the works. We are just waiting for the approval from the Toll Regulatory Board, but while waiting for that we’ll start the needed preparations,” MNTC President Rodrigo E. Franco said in an interview. “Our target is to complete the integration works by November.”

The integration of the two expressways would speed up the queues on the exit plazas of the Nlex and the SCTEx, increasing the amount of transactions per hour to 800 from the current 200.

“This would pave way for seamless travel between the two expressways, lessening the stops that motorists have to do in the current setup,” Franco said.

The toll-linkage project involves the conversion of separate Nlex and SCTEx toll-collection systems into a single system that should allow more efficient toll collection and faster movement of traffic for motorists.

It also involves the installation and removal of temporary plazas, and the construction of interchange plazas that will also require the widening of existing entry or exit ramps.

BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova said the integration would facilitate trade to and from three key economic zones of Central Luzon: the Subic Bay Freeport, the Clark Freeport Zone and the Central Techno Park in Tarlac.

“The actual integration may even be faster because MNTC will soon be awarded the contract for the SCTEx as well,” he said. “The BCDA board formally approved the toll-integration proposal, clearing all hurdles to toll integration from our end.”

The tollways arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. will soon take over the reins of the central expressway after the disposition agency failed to muster bids for the price challenge of the thoroughfare’s multibillion-peso operations contract.

The toll-road business of tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan offered P3.5 billion to win the deal way back President Arroyo’s term. It also proposed a 50-percent revenue-sharing scheme.

President Aquino late last year directed the state-run asset-disposition agency to subject the offer of MNTC to a price challenge “in the interest of transparency and for competition.”

The 94-kilometer expressway allows for the merging of Clark and Subic Bay Freeport zones into a single facility resulting in the convergence of land-, air- and sea-based transport.

As of end-November 2014, the number of vehicles that used the toll road was at 10,305,688, a 12.93-percent increase compared to the 9,125,480 vehicles that used the toll road for the same period in 2013. It booked P1.07 billion in revenues during the period under review.

The Pangilinan group also operates the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway. Its parent company, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., has significant interests in toll roads abroad. (Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror)