SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board on Thursday gave the green light to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to proceed with the Swiss Challenge for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project.
In a statement, the DPWH said the TPLEX Extension Project obtained the approval to proceed with the Swiss Challenge including the negotiation parameters, terms and conditions between the Government Negotiation Team and the original proponent, San Miguel Holdings Corporation from the NEDA Board chaired by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and attended by DPWH Secretary and NEDA Board Member Manuel Bonoan.
The Swiss Challenge method allows private players to accept contracts from the government through the process of bidding.
According to DPWH Undersecretary for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and Planning Services Maria Catalina Cabral and DPWH PPP Service officer-in-charge Director Pelita Galvez, the NEDA Board’s greenlight for the DPWH to start the Swiss Challenge for TPLEX Extension Project is a much-awaited development as it is one of the 197 Infrastructure Flagship Projects (IFPs) under the Build Better More program the administration of President Marcos.
With the NEDA Board’s approval, an invitation for comparative proposals in compliance with the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Guidelines and the Revised 2022 Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law Implementing Rules and Regulations, shall be published by the DPWH.
Other parties shall be invited to submit their bids to top that of the original proponent’s unsolicited proposal.
Without a challenger, the project may be awarded to the original proponent as early as March 2024.
Otherwise, the project is expected to be awarded by May 2024.
Civil works of the TPLEX extension can then proceed, which is expected to be completed within five years.
The TPLEX Extension Project, which will be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP), is a 59.4-kilometer four-lane toll road that will start from the TPLEX in Rosario and will terminate in San Juan, both in La Union.
The estimated total project cost is P23.4 billion.
When completed, the extended TPLEX will further improve mobility between the Ilocos and Cordillera Regions, Central Luzon, and Metro Manila, reducing travel time from Rosario to San Juan, La Union from the current one and a half hours to just around 40 minutes.
The toll road is also expected to accelerate the development of new growth hubs in Ilocos and nearby regions while alleviating the traffic congestion in the area particularly at MacArthur Highway (Manila North Road).
The NEDA Board initially approved the TPLEX Extension Project on June 2, 2023, allowing DPWH to commence negotiations with the original proponent. BY: APRIL M. MONTES-BRAVO