MANILA — Construction of the massive Cavite-Bataan Interlink Bridge is expected to begin next year, the Department of Public Works and Highways said on Thursday.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan said they are now finalizing preparations for the project.
“We’re just trying to finalize actually yung financing arrangement namin with Asian Development Bank,” Bonoan said at the sidelines of the 3rd Philippine Roads, Bridges and Tunnels Summit in Pasay City.
The bridge was earlier projected to begin construction in the latter part of 2023.
The cable-stayed bridge will be about 32 kilometers long and will cross Manila Bay. It is expected to cut travel time between Cavite and Bataan to around 30 minutes from 5 hours at present, the DPWH earlier said. For motorists coming from Manila, travel time to Bataan is seen to be less than 2 hours from over 3 hours at present.
“When this is completed, it will be the second longest bay bridge in the world,” Bonoan said.
It is also expected to be the longest bridge in the country, longer than the 8.9-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Bridge and the 2.1-kilometer San Juanico Bridge.
The DPWH chief said they will begin construction “hopefully early or middle of next year.”
He also expects the completion and opening of the Panguil Bay Bridge in Mindanao in the first half of 2024.
But Bonoan also acknowledged several challenges that they continue to face like right-of-way issues, high construction costs, and the unpredictability of the weather.
“Weather conditions, actually, are one of the most prevalent na nakaka-affect sa implementation of the projects so we’ll just have to adjust and facilitate iyong implementation of projects during the dry season para mas mabilis,” he said.
DELAYS, LOW BUDGET UTILIZATION,
Meanwhile, the DPWH said it is aiming to spend about 75 percent of its 2023 budget by the end of the year.
DPHW is among the agencies cited with low budget utilization.
Bonoan said that they are already fast-tracking the implementation of all government infrastructure projects to meet the target.
“We are actually looking forward to spending about 75 percent of the total allocated budget for 2023 towards the end of the year. Because you have to remember that the General Appropriations Act will allow for 2 years [for the] implementation of our projects,” said Bonoan.
Bonoan also said that they are on track to finish several projects this year, including 9 bridges in the Cagayan Valley region.
His statement comes as the Philippine government tries to ramp up infrastructure spending to make up for the lackluster economic growth in the second quarter and to achieve its full-year growth target of 6 to 7 percent by yearend.
Analysts have noted that with inflation and high interest rates constricting household consumption and private sector investment, the government should have ramped up spending to support economic growth.
Underspending has been cited as one of the reasons for the lackluster gross domestic product (GDP) print in the second quarter.