(PNA photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista will lead the groundbreaking rites for the construction of the Ortigas and Shaw Boulevard stations of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) on Monday.

In a news release, the DOTr said Bautista will brief Marcos on the highlights of the whole MMSP, the country’s first underground railway system that runs from Valenzuela City to Bicutan, or more than 33 kilometers, with 17 stations.

Bautista said the MMSP will be the crown jewel of the country’s mass transit infrastructure system after its completion.

Once operational, the subway can accommodate more than 370,000 passengers a day and will reduce travel time from Valenzuela to Bicutan to just 45 minutes.

The groundbreaking ceremony will signal the closure of a portion of Meralco Avenue in Pasig City -- from Capitol Commons to Shaw Boulevard -- where traffic will be rerouted starting this month until 2028 to give way for the construction.

The tunnel to connect the two stations will be nearly 3.4 kilometers long.

The MMSP is supported by loans from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The tunnel will be formed using two huge tunnel boring machines (TBM) from Japan, using a technique called the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM).

Each TBM to be used in the project can excavate 300 to 500 cubic meters of soil daily and creates a tunnel 12 to 30 meters long daily, using rotating cutting wheels that can easily break up hard soil and rocks.

While the massive TBMs can significantly hasten the process of tunneling, above-ground disruption will be kept to the minimum. (PR)