By Arjay L. Balinbin, January 27, 2020; Business World

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said the construction start date for the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEx) will fall sometime this year.

“Tapos na yung FS, so we’re going start this year (The feasibility study is done, so we’re going to start [with construction] this year,” Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said in Malabon City Friday on the sidelines of the inspection of NLEX Harbor Link Segment 10 C3-R10 Section, when asked for an update regarding the project.

He said that project cost was “not clear” yet, but it will be funded through the general appropriations act (GAA).

According to the official website of the DPWH, its Project Preparation Division (PPD) has endorsed the project to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for approval.

NEDA will then evaluate the proposal, determine the cost and give the go signal for the QBEx project. While awaiting NEDA approval, the DPWH may start acquiring right of way.

QBEx spans some 220 kilometers from Pagbilao, Quezon to the Maharlika Highway in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, near Naga City. The DPWH said the highway hopes to bypass current roads, which pass through town centers.

In its official website, the DPWH said one of the objectives of the project is to “provide a direct and fast route between Quezon and Bicol.”

The DPWH also expects the trade of goods between the two provinces to “prosper… because travel time for trucks will be reduced.”

The department is hoping as well that the project will “be classified as a ‘Project of National Significance’ due to its function to connect Quezon and Bicol provinces which are fast-developing provinces of Southern Luzon.”