San Miguel Corp. breaks ground on SLEX extension project

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — Conglomerate San Miguel Corporation broke ground Tuesday on its tollway project that is seen to cut travel time between Sto. Tomas, Batangas and Lucena City in Quezon province.

SMC, through its South Luzon Tollway Corporation (SLTC) is starting construction on the 66.74-kilometer South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Toll Road 4 (TR-4).

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in Tiaong, Quezon, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said he expects the project to be completed on time.

"Itong expressway na ito ay mapapadali ang trabaho dahil grabe ang support ng DPWH at ng local government officials...Madalas po ang delay is caused by right-of-way dahil walang cooperation ang local government or DPWH. In this case, napakagaling noong DPWH secretary natin, napakagaling ng LGU so wala akong nakikitang dahilan para madelay itong project," he said.

[Translation: The building of this expressway will go fast because the support of the DPWH and the local government is overwhelming...Often, the issue of right-of-way is the cause of delay because there is no cooperation from the local government or the DPWH. In this case, both the local government and the DPWH have been excellent so I see no reason for the project's delay.]

"Cavite and Laguna were considered no man's land. Once we finish this tollway, the peace and order situation in Quezon and Bicol will improve. Local tourism will improve. New businesses will emerge. Progress will be brought to the level of the small towns and barangays," Ang said.

The usual travel time of three hours along the stretch will be shortened to 45 minutes with the tollway.

SMC said the tollway will boost the economy and reduce vehicle volume along Maharlika Highway, a main road leading to the provinces of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and the Bicol region.

"We believe that the TR4 will further unlock the economic potential and promote tourism in Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Bicol provinces," Ang said. "With the growing population of Metro Manila, more and more people and businesses will move to these provinces due to these areas' proximity. We will continue to invest in modern toll roads and expressways that are at par with our neighbors in Asia."

Ang said "under the leadership of President (Rodrigo) Duterte and Secretary Mark Villar, the TR4 project finally gets underway, and I look forward to inaugurating this project in 36 months."

The toll road will be divided into six sections, namely Sto Tomas, Batangas to Makban in Laguna (11.32 km); Makban to San Pablo City (12.75 km); San Pablo to Tiaong in Quezon (7.5 km), Tiaong to Candelaria (15 km); Candelaria to Tayabas (10.21 km) and Tayabas to Lucena (9.96 km).

Apart from the SLEX, San Miguel's Star Tollway Corporation also operates the Star Tollway, Skyway and the NAIA Expressway in the South, and the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway at northern part of Luzon.