Skyway extension to QC, Manila 70% complete – Villar

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) — Motorists wrangling with the daily traffic in Metro Manila may soon find relief, with an elevated expressway that will link Buendia to Balintawak nearing completion.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said the Skyway Stage 3, which extends the elevated expressway from Makati to Manila and Quezon City, will be "substantially completed" before the year ends.

"At this point, in terms of structural completion, we are about 70 percent (complete). Our target is to be substantially completed by the end of the year, about 95 percent," Villar said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday.

Villar wants to finish the 18.68-kilometer (km) Skyway Stage 3 project within the first three months of 2020.

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In June, diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) said the Department of Public Works and Highways approved their proposal to extend the Skyway all the way to the toll plaza of the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Balintawak. This will take another three months to build. SMC's unit CITRA Central Expressway Corp. bagged the ₱37-billion contract to build the Skyway extension. Currently, the Skyway toll road bisects Buendia to Alabang.

Once that's done, SMC president and chief executive officer Ramon Ang said this will cut travel time from Alabang to NLEX to about 15 minutes, down from the current two-hour drive.

Villar opened the first segment of the Skyway project, a 3.76 km stretch from Buendia to Plaza Dilao in Paco, Manila, last Monday.

The Cabinet official said 24/7 construction work is being undertaken to meet project timelines. Villar added that he expects 50,000 to 100,000 cars removed from the congested Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) everyday once the Skyway is accesible.

As of July 5, The first section of the project linking Buendia to Quirino Avenue in Nagtahan, Manila is 83 percent done, while the segment from Ramon Magsaysay Avenue to Balintawak is 81 percent completed. Other Skyway exits will be at E. Rodriguez Avenue, Quezon Avenue, and Sgt. Rivera Street in Quezon City.

On Tuesday, Villar also opened the first section of the Cavitex C5 Southlink project, which is a 2.2 km flyover that links from Taguig to Pasay City across the South Luzon Expressway. The entire flyover is expected to be finished by 2021.

Budget woes?

Villar also said during the forum that the Department of Public Works and Highways has requested roughly a ₱500-billion budget for 2020, as they look to roll out more infrastructure projects.

The agency received ₱549.4 billion in 2018, but not before a long scuffle with Congress after supposed last-minute insertions to the agency's budget. House and Senate members were also at a deadlock on budget allocations, which led to a four-month delay of the budget passage.

READ: DPWH grilled over purported 'pork barrel' in 2019 budget

To avoid another drag — which left new and continuing projects unfunded — Villar said Cabinet officials talked to Congress leaders just as the session opened on Monday.

"We'll make bigger effort to coordinate with Congress and make sure, hopefully, this time will be more efficient. We’ve already spoken with the Speaker and the Senate President... they also want the passage of the budget as soon as possible," Villar said. "Confident naman ako na this year, we’ll be on schedule for the budget."

The Duterte administration is looking to spend about ₱8 trillion for infrastructure projects until 2022.