SLEX traffic woes over soon

    Additional lanes. A temporary steel on-ramp will be operational by December 1 to ease traffic congestion on SLEX.
    Additional lanes. A temporary steel on-ramp will be operational by December 1 to ease traffic congestion on SLEX.

    San Miguel Corp. (SMC) tollways unit Skyway O&M Corp. (SOMCO) said traffic on South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) will ease by next month with the scheduled opening of the temporary on-ramp from the Alabang viaduct going up to Skyway.

    SOMCO last week started the installation of the temporary steel on-ramp which will connect the Alabang viaduct to the Skyway. This will be operational by December 1.

    The ramp, which will have two lanes, will expand the northbound section of SLEX in Alabang from three to five.

    “Traffic will not only return to ‘normal’ levels, it will even improve. That’s because we are also opening the temporary ramp from the Alabang viaduct going up to Skyway. With a total of five lanes northbound, we can expect a significant improvement in the traffic,” said Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief operating officer.

    Alabang has always been a chokepoint for traffic because of the limitations in the original design of the SLEX which has five lanes coming from Susana Heights heading to Alabang.

    However, this narrows to four lanes at the Alabang viaduct and connects with the Skyway at-grade that only has three lanes.

    “This is the main reason why we are building the Skyway extension. We want to make the northbound and southbound sections five lanes each all throughout,” Ang said in a statement over the weekend.

    SOCOM on September 25 closed one northbound at-grade lane of the Skyway in the Alabang area to start preliminary work on the project. The stretch of slow-moving vehicles that day reached 19 kilometers (kms.), way above the daily average of 10 kilometers.

    “My commitment… is that by December 1, all preliminary work will be done. We will reopen the closed-off lane and restore use of all three at-grade northbound lanes,” Ang said.

    The Skyway extension project is a more than P10-billion undertaking funded by SMC to extend the Skyway all the way to the Susana Heights/Muntinlupa-Cavite Expressway.

    It will add three lanes northbound, translating to additional capacity of 4,500 vehicles per hour, and two lanes southbound, which will accommodate an additional 3,000 vehicles per hour.

    The SLEX extension will be completed by September or October next year and will solve northbound and southbound traffic congestion.

    SMC is set to open in April 2020, the Skyway Stage 3, an expressway that will connect SLEX and North Luzon expressway (NLEX) which stretches from Buendia, Makati to San Juan, Manila, Quezon City, all the way to NLEX.

    “That is another reason why we have to do the Skyway extension in the south. With the opening of Skyway Stage 3, more vehicles will be using the expressway. We want to eliminate choke points and give motorists a seamless connection from north to south and vice-versa,” Ang said.

    Ang said every year, some one million vehicles are added to Philippine roads, and yet for the longest time, EDSA has served as the lone connector between northern and southern Luzon.

    Currently, travel time between Baliktawak up to Buendia in Makati takes several hours.

    With the Skyway Stage 3, this will be cut to only take 15 minutes. Motorists from the south can also go directly to any point in Makati, Manila, Quezon City, and bypass Alabang and EDSA.

    “Skyway 3 will take out about 50 percent of vehicles on EDSA, according to our estimates,” Ang said.

    SMC also operates Southern Tagalog Arterial Road, Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union expressway and the NAIA Expressway.