FINAL INSPECTION. Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar (2nd from right) leads the final inspection of the Central Luzon Link Expressway on Wednesday (July 14, 2021). CLLEX will be opened to motorists on Thursday (July 15, 2021). (Photo courtesy of DPWH)

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The new Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) is expected to benefit some 11,000 motorists and commuters daily as it opens to the public on Thursday, July 15.

This was announced by Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark A. Villar on Wednesday during the final inspection of the four-lane expressway project connecting the provinces of Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.

"Bukas na po ang opening nitong CLLEX, kaya nagpa-final inspection na po kami. Para sa kaalaman ng ating mga kababayan, 18 kilometers ang bubuksan bukas hanggang Aliaga. Ang buong alignment ay 30-kilometer at nagsisimula sa Tarlac hanggang Cabanatuan. Sa ngayon ay magkakaroon ng expressway connection ang Nueva Ecija at ito ay isa sa mga laterals na ginagawa natin ngayon. Finally, mapapakinabangan na natin. Ang kagandahan ng CLLEX ay ito ay libre. Ito ay first expressway na libre (Tomorrow, July 15, is the opening of CLLEX and that is why we are conducting final inspection. For the information of our countrymen, 18 kilometers will be opened tomorrow up to Aliaga. The entire alignment is 30-kilometer that will start from Tarlac to Cabanatuan (Nueva Ecija). As of now, Nueva Ecija will have expressway connection and this is one of the laterals we are doing now. Finally, we will benefit from this. The good thing about CLLEX is it is free. This is the first expressway that is free)," Villar said in a live video via social media.

The first 18-kilometer section of CLLEX is from the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX)/Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) connection in Tarlac City up to the intersection of Aliaga-Guimba Road in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija.

Villar led the final safety checking of the new road network, accompanied by DPWH Undersecretary for Unified Project Management Office (UPMO) Operations Emil K. Sadain, and project director Benjamin A. Bautista.

The toll-free expressway project implemented by DPWH UPMO-Roads Management Cluster 1 is one of the key infrastructure projects with funding assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the Build, Build, Build program.

Sadain said the CLLEX sections covered by three contract packages that will be opened are the 4.10-kilometer (km) Tarlac Section, 6.40-km Rio Chico River Bridge Section, including the 1.5-km Rio Chico Viaduct, and the Aliaga Section with up and down ramps at the Guimba-Aliaga Road.

The DPWH is committed to complete the entire 30-kilometer expressway project within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte with the 10.3-km Cabanatuan Section under Contract Package 4 already at 88.7-percent completion.

The Zaragoza Interchange Section under Contract Package 5, on the other hand, is at 26.9 percent and expected to gain significant progress as site possessions are secured for the project’s right of way (ROW) requirements.

Once fully operational, the PHP11.811-billion expressway is expected to shorten the usual travel time of 70 minutes between Tarlac City and Cabanatuan City to just 20 minutes.

The new expressway will also form an important east-west link for the expressway network of Central Luzon to ensure a continuous seamless traffic flow for the motoring public from Metro Manila and vice versa passing through North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), SCTEX, and TPLEX. (PNA)