BAGUIO CITY – The Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) is currently studying for the possible conversion of the historic Kennon road into an ‘all-weather highway’ to make travel to the country’s undisputed Summer Capital easier with connections to the planned Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) exit in Rosario, La Union by the end of the year.
Engr. Fernando Autor, assistant vice president of NLEX Corporation’s project management department, said the company is closely coordinating with the officials and technical personnel of the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH) in preparing the plans and specifications of the design to convert the said major roadline to an ‘all-weather road.’
“We hope to finish the design for the Kennon road project so we can look for the funds to bankroll the implementation of the desired conversion of the scenic zigzag road into an all-weather highway,” Engr. Autor stressed.
Kennon Road, formerly known as the Benguet road, was built by foreign and local workers supervised by Engr. Lyman Kennon and was opened to motorists in 1905.
Autor pointed out part of the plan is the putting up of viaducts, rock sheds in identified critical portions of the 34-kilometer road line or the shotcreting of some unstable areas to ensure stability along the roadline and that the road is open to vehicular traffic round the clock.
According to him, the preparation of the plans and design for the rehabilitation will be followed by the determination of the source of funds for the implementation of the project.
Kennon Road, which is the shortest route from the lowlands to the city and vice versa, is usually closed to motorists when there is continuous rain for two hours because of possible landslides and falling rocks in various portions of the road that pose a serious threat to the safety of motorists.
The MPTC official said that once the rehabilitation and upgrading of the road is completed, there will be an increase in the toll fees in Kennon allow the concessionaire to recover investments infused for the conversion of the road into an ‘all-weather road.’
Autor clarified that there is no definite timeframe on the start of the project but initial studies are being done to gather enough data to be used to finalize the plans.
He added there is also a need for concerned government agencies and the local government to consult people living in the communities traversed by the roadline to address potential problems related to road-right-of-way concerns since it is the obligation of the government to deliver to the developer the road with the least problems to allow for the efficient implementation of project.
Autor claimed the counterpart of the government once the proposed rehabilitation and upgrading of Kennon rod will be done is to free the roadline from whatever road-right-of-way problems to allow the developer to implement the proposed development the soonest possible time.
By Dexter A. See