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Marcos greenlights P23-billion TPLEx extension, Upper Wawa Dam project

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THE PHILIPPINE government on Wednesday greenlighted an expressway extension project spanning the provinces of Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union, which it said would boost connectivity among the agriculture, industry and tourism sectors in the country’s north.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. led the contract signing for the P23-billion Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) extension project.

The 59.4-kilometer, four-lane toll road will start from the last exit of TPLEx in Rosario, La Union and end in San Juan, La Union.

“Aside from bringing in tourists and economic activities more quickly to the northern part of the country, it will also bring resources and food faster to the southern parts of Luzon,” Mr. Marcos said in a speech.

“We also expect to forge value-adding partnerships among agriculture, industry and tourism enterprises in the area as it links vital regional corridors and hubs. This will, of course, generate a significant number of decent jobs and more opportunities for all,” he added.

The project, which aims to boost economic growth along the expressway corridor, seeks to cut travel time from Rosario to San Juan, La Union to about 40 minutes from one-and-a-half hours.

It will provide high-quality roadway infrastructure between the Ilocos and Cordillera regions, Central Luzon and Metro Manila,” according to a project document.

“It will accelerate the development of, or encourage the establishment of, new growth hubs in Region I and nearby regions,” it added.

Without the project, the MacArthur Highway is projected to have “high-level traffic” by 2025.

San Miguel Holdings Corp. is the proponent of public-private partnership project.

The P23.36-billion estimated cost of the project is exclusive of financing fees worth P4.16 billion.

The project’s first segment (18.5 km), which covers Rosario to Tubao, La Union, is targeted to be finished by 2028.

“I appeal to San Miguel Holdings Corp. to complete the TPLEx extension segment 1 by 2028 and all other sections as scheduled,” Mr. Marcos said.

The second segment (23.1 km) covers Tubao to Naguilian, La Union and is expected to be built by 2027, while the last segment (17.8 km) covers Naguilian to San Juan, La Union and is targeted to begin by 2028.

Also on Wednesday, Mr. Marcos led the impounding ceremony for a dam project in Rizal province that is expected to increase water supply in Metro Manila by over 400 million liters daily as part of a wider effort to ensure the climate-vulnerable country’s water security.

The 450-hectare Upper Wawa Dam project — the second phase of the Wawa Bulk Water Supply project — would increase water supply to Metro Manila and nearby areas to 438 million liters per day from 80 million by the end of 2025, he said in a speech.

The first phase, the Tayabasan Weir, has been operational since October 2022.

“These 438 to 710 million liters per day translate to supporting the water supply needs of about 2.2 to 3.5 million Filipinos in the MWSS (Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System) service area,” Mr. Marcos said.

“The Upper Wawa Dam will be the biggest water source to be built in the country in over 50 years, second only to the Angat Dam,” he said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza