Motorists going up north of Luzon can experience a less stressful trip as the Sison, Pangasinan-Rosario, La Union section of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEX) opened last December 15, as reported by Rappler. The road will be open to the public in time for the holidays and will be closed again in January for the construction of the last portion of the expressway.
Using the Sison-Rosario segment, motorists can cut about half an hour in their travel from Metro Manila to Baguio City. What’s more, it will be toll-free during the holiday season, although inclusive dates weren’t specified.
As cited in Public-Private Partnership Center (PPP), TPLEX, a project under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), is an 89.31-km expressway giving motorists easier access to Region I (Ilocos) and Region III (Central Luzon). It has three sections, the first one running from Tarlac City to Rosales, Pangasinan; the second traversing Rosales to Urdaneta City, Pangasinan; and the last connecting Urdaneta and Rosario, La Union. The first two sections are already completed.
Once finished in February, travel time from Tarlac to La Union will be cut by an hour, a sharp drop from the current 3.5 hours. It’s estimated that approximately 20,000 vehicles will pass through it daily.
The near completion of TPLEX extension is seen to be a promising feat for tourism in the Northern provinces. As Baguio and La Union are enjoying an influx of tourists, the shorter travel time brought by infrastructure developments can further increase arrivals.
The summer capital is one of the top destinations in the country, not only because of its beautiful spots but also for the accolades attached to its name, affirming its tourist-friendly image. Recently, it received recognition from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), winning a Clean Tourist City award. A few years back, it was also included in the network of creative cities recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). As cited in Business Mirror, visitor arrivals in the city grew by 15.8 percent in 2018.
Meanwhile, La Union is also “making waves” in terms of tourism. Mentioned in the local government’s website, the province’s number of tourist arrivals reached 472,891 in the first half of 2018, which is an increase of 54.25 percent from the 243,042 of the same period in the previous year. With its hosting of the first-ever surfing tournament in the recently-concluded Southeast Asian Games, it is expected that arrivals will increase in the next years.
Mobility from City to Province
More infrastructures outside the metro are cropping up, as the government hopes to stir a more vibrant tourism and economic activity in such areas, along with improving people’s mobility in and out of the provinces. Aside from the TPLEX, which links the central and northern Luzon provinces to Manila, there are projects in the pipeline and are already under construction, targeted to bridge urban centers and rural areas.
Seen as emerging industrial and commercial centers, Cavite and Laguna have become priority areas when it comes to infrastructure development. The Skyway extension project, for one, which will stretch until Susana Heights, is designed to connect the National Capital Region (NCR) to such Southern Luzon provinces, while also resolving the traffic at South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Alabang area.
Expected to increase the Skyway’s capacity, the 6-kilometer extension will be able to accommodate 4,500 vehicles per hour northbound, and 3,000 vehicles per hour southbound, as reported by GMA Network. The target date of completion for the P10-billion project is in the last quarter of 2020.
Meanwhile, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), which links Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) in Kawit and SLEX-Mamplasan Interchange in Biñan, Laguna, can also make travels in these provinces easier and faster. Once finished, the travel time between the areas will only take 45 minutes, as cited in ABS-CBN News. Expected to be finished in 2022, the P35-billion expressway will also serve about 50,000 vehicles.
Other than the major expressway up north, there’s also a railway line under construction. As cited in PPP, the 23-kilometer MRT-7 is designed to connect NCR to Region III (Central Luzon) provinces. With 14 stations, it will run from the MRT-3 North Avenue Station in Quezon City to San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.
A 22-kilometer asphalt road will also be constructed from Bocaue Interchange of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to the intermodal terminal in Tala. The Department of Transportation expects that this road will help alleviate heavy traffic in EDSA as it diverts northern provincial bus operations.
According to Manila Standard, the railway line will be completed by 2021, cutting travel time from two to three hours to mere 35 minutes.
Sources: Rappler, Public-Private Partnership Center (PPP), Business Mirror, LaUnion.Gov.ph, GMA Network, ABS-CBN News, Manila Standard
Main photo via Wikipedia