THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is reassessing the costing needed for the proposed Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge due to uncertainty over the project’s “implementability.”
The economic planning agency “is continuing to study the implementability of the project particularly because… we have to revalidate the demand for possible traffic on that bridge given the effects of COVID-19,” NEDA Undersecretary Jonathan L. Uy said at a briefing Thursday, when asked about the status of the project.
Mr. Uy, who also heads the agency’s investment programming group, added that the P175.66-billion project entails large costs relative to the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which will be the main implementing agency.
“The cost of the project is quite huge relative to the budget envelope that public works (DPWH) has, so we are coordinating with the flagship committee together with public works on how we can fast-track the implementation of the project, notwithstanding these immediate concerns,” he said.
Asked for clarification, NEDA said the project remains in the pipeline of infrastructure projects of the government, though it has lost place on the “flagship project” list. The approach of 2022, when the government is due to step down, has led officials to identify “shovel-ready” projects as priorities, possibly raising the completion rate before the administration’s term ends.
The DPWH had not responded to requests for comment at deadline time.
The Asian Development Bank has said it will provide a loan of $1 billion to support construction of the bridge next year.
In January 2020, the NEDA Board, which reviews big-ticket projects, approved the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge, citing its potential to reduce road congestion in Metro Manila.
The bridge as proposed is a 32.15-km, four-lane span over Manila Bay connecting Mariveles, Bataan and Naic, Cavite.
The DPWH signed late last year a P3.03-billion contract for the detailed engineering design of the bridge. The agency expects this to be completed by early 2022.
The bridge is expected to reduce travel time between Cavite and Bataan to 20 to 30 minutes from five hours currently. — Beatrice M. Laforga