By Cai Ordinario, January 30, 2020; Business Mirror

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board approved P547.63 billion worth of projects, which will be funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA), in its first meeting for the year.

In a statement, the Neda said the list of projects included the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 4, Edsa Greenways project, and six new projects to be undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The six projects are the Maritime Safety Enhancement Program; the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge (BCIB) Project; Cebu-Mactan Bridge (4th Bridge) and Coastal Road Construction Project; Davao City Coastal Bypass Road Project; Capas-Botolan Road Project; and the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) Island Bridges Project.

“These projects are the building blocks of our people’s dreams and aspirations. As such, we intend to roll out as many as we can to ease congestion and spread growth throughout the country,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

The P57.07-billion MRT 4 Project involves the construction of a 15.56- kilometer elevated monorail transit system from N. Domingo, Quezon City to Taytay Diversion Road-Manila East Road rotunda in Taytay, Rizal.

The P8.51-billion Edsa Greenways Project involves the enhancement of pedestrian facilities around key rail stations along Edsa, particularly Balintawak, Guadalupe, Cubao, and Taft for the first phase of the project.

Neda said it will provide safe, secure, efficient and environment-friendly mobility in public spaces available 24/7.

Pernia said the Edsa Greenways project will be constructed in line with the National Transport Policy that gives priority to pedestrians and bikers.

The national transport policy, Neda said, aims to provide a safe and direct access to priority destinations such as housing, education, health, and business centers, as well as public transport modes.

The Neda said the P6.25-billion Maritime Safety Enhancement Program will be undertaken by the DOTr together with the Philippine Coast Guard.

This involves the construction of two buoy bases, acquisition of two buoy tenders, production and maintenance of Aids to Navigation (AtoN), repair of equipment and materials and consulting services.

The P175.7-billion BCIB project aims to reduce travel time and ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila, as well as South Luzon and North Luzon gateway.

This will be done through the construction of a 32.15-kilometer, four-lane bridge from Barangay Alas-asin in Mariveles, Bataan, crossing Manila Bay until Barangay Timalan, Naic, Cavite.

The project, to be implemented over a period of six years, also involves the construction of two navigation bridges, interchanges, land viaducts, turnaround facilities.

It will also include a special span bridge near Cavite coast, toll plaza and an administration building, as well as the improvement of local existing junctions.

Meanwhile, the P76.41-billion Fourth Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project aims to improve the capacity of the existing road network in Cebu, and facilitate faster movement of trade, people and convenience in Metro Cebu.

It involves the construction of a 3.3-km bridge with an elevated viaduct of 3.385-km, with two lanes in each direction.

It will also include the construction of a 4.9-km four-lane coastal road with a 4.751-km elevated viaduct. Interchanges will be constructed at the linkage between the two projects in Mandaue City.

The list also includes the P5.9-billion Capas-Botolan Road Project which will construct a 35.64-km road with eight bridges. The project’s cumulative total length is 1,612.82 linear meters between Capas and Botolan.

The project will directly link the provinces of Tarlac and Zambales, and reduce travel time to about one hour and 22 minutes from an estimated four hours (using the Pangasinan route in the North), or two hours and 40 minutes (using the MacArthur Highway and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway).

Neda said the P189.53-billion PGN Island Bridges Project involves the construction of a 32.47-km, four-lane, two sea-crossing bridges, including connecting roads and interchanges that will connect the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros.

The project intends to provide a safer, faster, and more convenient transportation linkage between Panay, Guimaras and Negros through a connected land passageway.

Once completed, the project will improve the highway trunk networks, thus allowing the flow of people, goods and services between the three islands.

The P28.26-billion Davao City Coastal Bypass Road Project including Bucana Bridge involves the construction of an 18.21-km road with a four-lane facility and a speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour (kph), from Bago Aplaya to R. Castillo.

The project will serve as a bypass road/alternative route to the Davao-Cotabato Road and ABS-CBN Diversion Road to ease traffic congestion along busy intersections and Central Business District.

Neda said the project will also disperse urbanization outside the Davao City Urban Center, which is already oversaturated because of the concentration of large-scale shopping malls and its proximity to international transportation facilities (e.g., Davao International Airport and Port of Davao).

Meanwhile, the NEDA Board also approved the change in scope and cost of the Davao City Bypass Construction Project, and the extensions in loan validity and Implementation period and increase in cost of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project.

With the changes, Neda said the new cost of the project is P46.8 billion, an 81.04-percent increase in cost from the initial estimate of P25.85 billion.

For the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project, the Neda Board approved a 24-month loan validity extension, an 18-month project implementation period extension and 9.04-percent increase in project cost.