WITH traffic in Metro Manila fast returning to pre-pandemic congestion, there was welcome news last Tuesday – the 18-kilometer Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 was finally completed after almost four years of construction work at a cost of P44.8 billion.
The elevated expressway connects the two major expressways in Luzon – the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). For years, the two expressways served the needs of motorists in the two regions, but right inside Metro Manila, all traffic slowed and often came to a full stop. Epifanio de los Santos Ave. (EDSA) became well-known the world over for its utterly slow traffic, needing two hours to drive from one end in Caloocan City to the other end in Makati.
President Duterte vowed he would cut down the travel time from Ayala Ave. in Makati to Cubao, Quezon City, to only five minutes. The solution, as he saw it, was the construction of elevated expressways that would take traffic off EDSA.
Over the years, the administration has undertaken so many public works projects all over the country and intends to continue this with its “Build, Build, Build” program. Earlier, a new elevated highway was built over western Metro Manila connecting NLEX to C-3 in Tondo, on to the pier zone, thus absorbing the cargo trucks that used to clog EDSA at Balintawak, Quezon City.
Then last Tuesday, the other major highway Skyway 3 – connecting NLEX and SLEX over eastern Metro Manila – was finally completed, it was announced by Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways and Chief Operation Officer Ramon S. Ang of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) which the government had contracted to complete the highway.
Skyway 3 will be open to the public after a few finishing touches, including proper curing of the asphalt, which had been delayed by the recent rains. When it finally opens to the public – possibly on its original October 31 schedule – it will reduce travel time from NLEX to SLEX from two hours to only 30 minutes. It should decongest traffic in Metro Manila by as much as 55,000 vehicles daily.
The highway-building program has somehow managed to continue despite the slowdown in most other government programs in the last six months. With two more years of the administration and the continuing Build, Build, Build program, the administration may well be known best for this building program that has not been stopped or slowed down by restrictions on other government programs due to the pandemic.