San Miguel eyeing TPLEX extension to San Juan in La Union by 2022

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Filipino surfer Roger Casugay competes during the 2019 SEA Games event in San Juan, La Union. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 16) – Heads up, surfers! Driving to the surfing capital of the north may be faster than ever as the San Miguel Corporation looks to extend the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway to San Juan, La Union in the next two years.

On Wednesday, SMC opened the last 11-kilometer stretch of the original expressway linking provinces in Northern Luzon. The listed firm said the four-lane toll road will cut travel time from Metro Manila to Baguio City to just 3.5 hours from up to six hours previously, while driving from Tarlac to Rosario, La Union – where the toll road ends – will take just an hour.

SMC earlier bared plans to further extend the existing road network all the way to San Juan town, which will involve building a four-lane toll road spanning 59 kms. by the end of 2022.

"Once na binigyan tayo ng go signal, tuloy-tuloy kaagad ang trabaho, wala nang mobilization. Kaya sabi ko sa mga contractor, ‘yung mga heavy equipment, ‘wag niyong alisin dahil kapag binigyan tayo ng approval ni Secretary [Sonny] Dominguez, tuloy-tuloy na ‘yan," SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang told reporters.

[Translation: Once we are given the go signal, we will immediately start construction and there will be no need for mobilization. I told our contractors not to remove the heavy equipment on site anymore since we will push through as soon as we get the approval of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez.]

The conglomerate has received original proponent status for the ₱24.1-billion project. Rules require a Swiss challenge, or a call to other contractors if they are interested to build the same project at a cheaper or more favorable terms, before the contract is officially awarded to SMC.

Future plans also include building an adjacent toll road that will link San Juan all the way to Laoag in Ilocos Norte, which are currently six hours drive apart.

TPLEX has 10 interchanges and 11 toll plazas located in Tarlac City, Victoria, Pura, Ramos, Anao, in Tarlac; Carmen, Urdaneta, Binalonan, Pozorrubio, Sison in Pangasinan, and Rosario in La Union. An exit point at Sison, Pangasinan is being completed, SMC said.

The three sections of the TPLEX cost ₱35 billion to build and has a 35-year concession period, according to the Public-Private Partnership Center.

The diversified conglomerate is also taking on other major infrastructure projects such as the Skyway Stage 3 linking southern Metro Manila to the North Luzon Expressway, the Metro Rail Transit line 7, and construction of a new international airport in Bulacan.