LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The revival of the proposal of former Pangasinan 5th District Rep. Mark Cojuangco to transfer the exit of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) from the original site in Rosario, La Union right before the mouth of Kennon Road and Marcos Highway to San Fabian, Pangasinan will cost the government additional P1 Billion and the delay in the completion of the project, Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Works, said here.
Cosalan said contractors of the newest 88-kilometer highway in the country are right on target for its completion by the end of this year, thus, the proposed diversion of its exit would mean an unwarranted delay in the supposed full operation of the highway up to Rosario, La Union by the end of the year.
“We will not allow untoward delays in the project that would mean backtracking from the original plans because it would be the interest of the commuting and motoring public that will be compromised in case we agree to such diversion of the expressway’s exit,” Cosalan stressed.
The chairman of the House Committee on Public Works explained that under the proposal of former Rep. Cojuangco, the TPLEX will pass through Sison, San Jacinto, and San Juan towns in Pangasinan before passing through the towns of Sto. Tomas and exit in Rosario, instead of directly passing through the towns of Binalonan, Pozzorubio and Sison in Pangasinan and its exit in Rosario, La Union right at the mouth of Kennon Road and Marcos Highway.
According to Cosalan, the proposed diversion of the highway’s exit will mean an added 10 kilometers of travel for motorists before reaching the exit compared to the original 88.4-kilometer highway as planned by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Cosalan said Cojuangco’s renewed proposal will defeat the original purpose of the construction of the TPLEX which is to significantly reduce the travel time from the lowlands to Baguio City among the different parts of the Cordillera and Northern Luzon to boost the tourism industry north of Manila.
“We should not deviate from the original plans of the TPLEX because it would translate to much bigger losses for the government and the people in terms of increased length of travel and exposure just to satisfy the interest of a few influential personalities,” Cosalan said.
The TPLEX connects the Northern Luzon provinces to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and is envisioned to boost tourism and economic growth because of the significantly reduced travel time from Metro Manila to any part of the north by at least three and a half hours.
Cosalan rallied local governments in the Cordillera and Northern Luzon to pass separate resolutions strongly opposing the proposed diversion of the exit of the TPLEX from Rosario, La Union to a still undetermined area in San Fabian, Pangasinan or Sto. Tomas, La Union which is not in consonance with the duly approved project programs and standards.
He said it is high time for local governments to raise their objections relative to the impending delay in the completion of the project and the added amount to be shouldered by the Filipino people just to satisfy the interest of a few personalities.