Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is undertaking the much-awaited P13.1-billion Southern Luzon Expressway-Toll Road 4 (SLEX-TR4) project that will extend the highway from Sto. Tomas, Batangas all the way to Lucena, Quezon.
The four-lane, 58-kilometer expressway project is seen to make travel to and from Southern Tagalog provinces such as Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, and Bicol, faster and safer.
The project is expected to cut travel time between Sto. Tomas and Lucena to just one hour from the usual four hours.
In a project briefing led by the Toll Regulatory Board and attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III in Quezon province yesterday, proponent South Luzon Tollways Corporation, a unit of SMC, said that it hoped to start the project in less than a year.
Local government officials have welcomed and expressed support for the project, saying that it will boost trade, commerce, and tourism in Regions 4 and 5.
“We look at infrastructure as an opportunity to participate in the growth of our country. Quality infrastructure will change and impact lives,” said SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.
“The tollway will help encourage new investments across these regions. Land values will appreciate; new businesses will emerge. Because of the new roads, progress will be brought to the towns and barangays. And we are happy that we are in a position to contribute.”
Ang added that the project could also help in addressing peace and order concerns by making the provinces more accessible than before.
Traveling to and from Southern Luzon region will also be safer, as SLEX-TR4 will have four lanes (preventing head-on collisions), guard rails, median barriers, well-lighted toll plazas, and CCTV cameras, among other safety features, he said.
SLEX-TR4 is the latest project in SMC’s infrastructure portfolio, which already includes the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, the at-grade and elevated Skyway system and the Skyway Stage 3 project, the NAIA Expressway project, the existing SLEX, and the recently upgraded and expanded Southern Tagalog Arterial Road or STAR Tollway.
In the coming years, Ang said that the company is looking to invest about P168 billion to construct modern tollroads and highways that are at par with those in neighboring Asian countries.
The project is divided into five sections: Section 1 covers Sto. Tomas, Batangas to Macban Laguna (10.58 kms); Macban, Laguna to San Pablo, Laguna (12.2 kms); San Pablo, Laguna to Tiaong, Quezon (8.1-kms); Tiaong to Candelaria, Quezon (14.4 kms), and Candelaria to Lucena City, Quezon (12.31-kms).
SLTC said that it is targeting mid-2017 for the completion of the first section from Santo Tomas to Makban, and 2019 for completion of the whole project.