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Govt seeks SM group aid for railway

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 [ ]

THE government will ask the SM group to partly finance the construction of the “Grand Central Terminal” for the three mass rail transits (MRT), an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The NEDA official said the shopping mall operator is willing to infuse capital for the construction of an elevated grand terminal that would be walking distance to commuters of all lines situated near the intersection of EDSA, North Avenue and West Avenue.

“If we can get the P400 million [from] SM, the project will be deficit neutral on the part of the government,” the NEDA official said.

Last year, SM Prime Holdings Inc. backed out of a plan to finance the construction of an additional station for the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1) North Extension project, after state-run Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) decided to have a “Grand Central Terminal” for MRT 3 and 7 and the LRT 1 North Extension project.

The planned Metro Manila Integrated Rail Terminal (MMIRT) is estimated to cost about P1.5 billion.

Transport Secretary Guiling Mamondiong said the target completion of the project is May next year, with full revenue operation on or about August 15, 2010.

The LRT 1 North Extension is also expected to be completed in May next year at a cost of P6.32 billion.

The project involves the extension of LRT 1 to the North Avenue station of MRT 3, the construction of two new intermediate stations—Balintawak and Roosevelt—and a terminal station, the LRT 1 North Avenue station.

Once running, the LRT 1 North Extension is expected to serve about 800,000 to 1 million passengers.

The 20-kilometer MRT 7, meanwhile, would cost around $1.235 billion and will run from San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to SM City station in North Avenue and would be linked to LRT Line 1 and MRT 3.

MRT 7 will start from Tala, Caloocan City, passing through La Mesa Dam reservoir, Fairview, Batasan, Diliman, Philcoa and end at EDSA-North Avenue.

It will serve an estimated two million commuters in the northern parts of Quezon City and Caloocan City.

Besides the elevated transport system, the contractor will also build a 17-kilometer, six-lane asphalt access road in Marilao, Bulacan, that will lead to its depot in Tala.

-- Darwin G. Amojelar


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