It’s finally happening: the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) are finally connected as Skyway Stage 3 partially opens today. Now, travel time from Makati to Quezon City is cut to just 20 minutes. Best of all, as promised by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) last October, toll will be free for 1 month.
SMC president, Ramon Ang, made the announcement yesterday via his official social media page.
Years in the making
In 2014, the Department of Public Works and Highways received an unsolicited proposal from San Miguel Corporation, the toll operator of SLEX, to extend the elevated Skyway from Bicutan in Taguig up to Balintawak in Quezon City.
At the start of construction, the plan was to align the 14-kilometer Skyway Stage 3 to the Zamora Flyover, crossing the Pasig River, then meeting up with the NLEX-SLEX connector near Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) then to the old Sta. Mesa road. Due to right-of-way issues, however, the project was slightly delayed and was forced to re-align to Pandacan, Manila, and follow the San Juan River up to Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.
Then, the construction was further modified by adding a fifth segment into the project, this time, ending near the Balintawak toll plaza of NLEX, instead of the original EDSA Cloverleaf end. This also brings the total length of the Skyway Stage 3 to almost 19 kilometers.
Unfortunately, further delays were encountered this year. In February a fire razed a warehouse in Pandacan, which then made a portion of the project weak until it finally gave in and collapsed. Then in March, the Philippine Government declared a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, which further halted the construction of the project.
Construction is expected to be fully completed by February of next year and will bring the total length of Skyway close to 41 kilometers, making it one of the longest elevated roadways in the world. The Skyway Stage 3 has a projected cost of PhP44.86-billion, which excludes contingencies due to the Section 2 realignment along San Juan River and the connection in NLEX (Section 5) and other design changes, according to DPWH.