LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – Provincial officials of this province expressed their conformity and all-out support to the original route of the 88.84-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) as earlier approved by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) board and now being implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), particularly Section 3 from Urdaneta City here to Rosario, La Union, and strongly urged the implementing agency and the private contractors to expedite the completion of the expressway at the earliest time possible.
In Resolution No. 158, series of 2015, the provincial board stated it “firmly believes that the original route is a better way in going to Baguio city and the whole of the Cordillera Region from the southern area.”
The multi-billion TPLEX is a public-private partnership project funded by the Private Infrastructure Development Corporation (PIDC) through the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme prescribed under the BOT law and traverses a total of 88.85 kilometers from Tarlac City to Rosario, La Union.
However, Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Mark Cojuangco came out with a proposal for a rerouting of the Urdaneta-Rosario section in order to reportedly divert the highway to the interior parts of the province which will be beneficial to the people within the province and Region I.
Cojuangco’s new proposal was strongly objected to by Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Works, who argued the new TPLEX route will be longer and will deprive thousands of vegetable farmers the luxury of availing of the shortest route to the markets in the lowlands.
Cosalan revealed Cojuangco’s proposal will increase the highway’s length by 3.16 kilometers from the original route and the cost of the multi-billion project by approximately 42.1 percent.
“The new proposal of rerouting the highway is impractical, dilatory, onerous and burdensome to the riding public as it will result to a serious delay in the completion of such section and additional expenses by way of increased project cost,” the Pangasinan resolution signed by Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim stressed.
Cosalan explained Cojuangco’s proposed new route would run counter to the supposed primary objective of the TPLEX which was to significantly lessen the original 6-hour travel time from Metro Manila up to Baguio City and vice versa to only 3 and a half hours or less and will deprive vegetable farmers and traders the fastest way of bringing their crops to the lowland markets.
“We are elated that various sectors in the areas to be traversed by the highway have realized the benefit of following the original TPLEX route so that it would be completed by the end of the year and millions of people will start enjoying the use of the new roadline,” Cosalan stressed.
He added Cojuangco’s proposal will also burden the Filipino people because the government will be paying an additional counterpart of P500 million to the original P4.25 billion subsidy that it is supposed to pay the project contractor for a period of 25 years that will translate to an additional P12.5 billion in added subsidy in the case of the government. By Dexter A. See