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Clark-Tarlac tollway to open July 25

By Ding Cervantes
Monday, July 21, 2008 [ philstar.com ]

CLARK FREEPORT – The 32-kilometer portion of the 93.77-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) from this freeport to Tarlac will finally be opened to motorists past midnight on July 25, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) said.

The BCDA said the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has approved a P2 per kilometer toll on the Clark-Tarlac segment for Class A vehicles, the same rate earlier approved for the Clark-Subic stretch opened to motorists last April.

“With the full commercial operations of the SCTEx following the opening of the remaining 32-km Clark-Tarlac stretch, travel time from Subic to Tarlac is reduced from more than two hours to a mere 65 minutes, or 40 minutes from Clark to Subic, and 25 minutes from Clark to Tarlac. From the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in Balintawak, travel time to Subic is reduced to one hour and a half,” the BCDA said in an advisory.

No one from BCDA could be contacted yesterday to explain why its advisory cited only 32 kms of the Clark-Subic segment, despite earlier BCDA documents indicating that the segment is supposed to be 43.27 kms long, as the portion from Clark to Subic runs 50.5 kms – for a supposed total length of 93.77 kms for the entire SCTEx.

“The rate for Class B vehicles will be P4 per km and P6 for Class C. Class A vehicles intending to travel the full length of the SCTEx from Subic to Tarlac City will pay the maximum P181 toll, Subic to San Miguel, P172, and Subic to Concepcion, P144,” the BCDA said.

The entire SCTEx is being operated by the joint venture of First Philippine Holdings Corp. and Egis Road Operation and Tollways Management Corp., interim operator of SCTEx, said BCDA spokesperson Lani Macasaet.

The BCDA said, “Using the SCTEx entails savings on fuel consumption, reduced cost on vehicle maintenance, comfortable travel and relaxed driving.”

The expressway, it added, “is expected to boost investment, trade and employment opportunities in the region.”

The BCDA said the SCTEx has been “designed for a maximum 100 km-per-hour speed limit.”

Motorists, who have been using the Clark-Subic segment, however, have noted high-end cars speeding much faster than 100 kms per hour along the tollway, which is not equipped with monitoring devices like those on NLEX.

“The four-lane, asphalt-concrete highway has been built in accordance with global standards and boasts eight interchanges, 35 bridges, 255 culverts, 51 underpasses as well as a state-of-the-art flood management system. A computerized toll collection system and 24-hour roadside assistance program will be implemented for users’ convenience,” the BCDA said.

Robert Gervacio, SCTEx program manager, said the 32-km Clark-Tarlac stretch of the SCTEx was supposed to have opened together with the Clark-Subic segment last April, but there were overpasses for farmers that were still being built and electric lines being installed then.

“The rice farm crossings are actually overpasses that will allow farmers to have access to their fields, which were hitherto contiguous farmlands until SCTEx cut through them,” Gervacio said.

“These farmers are also our stakeholders, and they should continue to enjoy income from their produce. Their access to their rice farms on the other side of the roadway through these overpasses will assure that,” he added.

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