Yesterday was a big day for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and San Miguel Corporation (SMC), as they inaugurated the last stretch of the 89.2-kilometer Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) to motorists. The toll road's completion will make the flow of goods to and from the north of Luzon faster, as well as easier for tourists in the post-COVID era.
SMC President and Chief Operating Officer, Ramon Ang, and Executive Secretary, Salvador Medialdea, were present during the inauguration. Meanwhile, National Task Force Against Covid 19 Deputy Chief Implementer Sec. Vince Dizon delivered a message on behalf of DPWH Sec. Mark Villar.
TPLEX entry from Rosario, La Union
Proposals for building an expressway that stretches from Metro Manila all the way to the Province of La Union have been around even before the year 2000. In 2005, when the construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) began, representatives from northern Luzon provinces lobbied for a government project that would extend the expressway system to Rosario, as a means to boost trade, tourism, and speed up transportation in the provinces of Tarlac, Eastern Pangasinan, and La Union.
When SCTEX was opened in 2008, development for the TPLEX project finally became a reality. In 2010, the first phase of TPLEX construction started, under an all-Filipino consortium backed by conglomerates San Miguel Corporation and DMCI Holdings, Inc.
3 years later in 2013, the Tarlac-Pura segment was opened. Also in the same year, SMC opened the Ramos, Tarlac segment, bringing the total stretch of TPLEX up to 23 kilometers out of its planned 89.2 kilometers.
Phase 2 of TPLEX was opened to motorists on December 2014. The 13.7-kilometer stretch covers the town of Carmen to Urdaneta in Pangasinan.
Construction for the 3rd and final phase of TPLEX was sub-divided into phase 3A and 3B. Phase 3A covered the construction of the Urdaneta-Pozzorubio stretch, while Phase 3B covered the Pozzorubio-Rosario stretch. Phase 3A was opened to motorists on December 6, 2017.
The last section between the town of Pozzorubio in Pangasinan and Rosario in La Union is approximately 11-kilometers long, crosses through the Bued River, and lands at the tip of the Pugo-Rosario Road, which then leads to Marcos Highway going up to Baguio City. Travel time from Manila to Baguio is now reduced from 6 hours to just 3 1/2 hours.