Decongesting Metro Manila has gained ground with continuous and progressing infrastructure projects of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in nearby provinces. We deemed it necessary to branch out investments and relocate people outside the National Capital Region in other areas striving for regional growth.
More than an hour travel from the NCR, Bulacan is one of the provinces that is developing and keeping up with the challenge of recovering despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tinaguriang “Northern Gateway from Manila, ang lalawigan ‘ho ng Bulacan ay may mahalagang kontribusyon para ikonekta at palawakin ang negosyo, trabaho, at iba pang oportunidad sa pagitan ng NCR at sa buong bahagi ng Luzon.
Kabilang ‘ho ang Bulacan sa aking commitment na paunlarin ang mga rehiyon sa pamamagitan ng mga transport infrastructure projects, sa ilalim ng “Build, Build, Build” Program ng Duterte Administration.
I believe in the potential of Bulacan, that it will become an economic and tourism powerhouse soon.
One of the initiatives of the DOTr in Bulacan is the PNR Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos)—which forms part of the massive North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) Project. This rail segment now has an overall progress rate of 46.68%. As I inspected the Balagtas Station and Calumpit construction yard site of the first leg of the NSCR, I personally witnessed that its construction is on track and moving at a fast pace. This is targeted for completion in the second quarter of 2024.
What was just once a blueprint, the rail line that will soon connect Manila and Bulacan is now fast becoming tangible. Once used to be a dream, now becomes a reality.
Matapos ang maraming taon na puro drawing at plano, ngayon ay walang patid na ang konstruksyon upang maisakatuparan na ang PNR Clark Phase 1.
This 38-kilometer railway will pass through Manila, Caloocan, and Valenzuela in Metro Manila as well as Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, and Malolos in Bulacan. Once completed, it is projected to serve 300,00 passengers daily and will cut Tutuban-Malolos travel time to just 35 minutes, from the current 1.5 hours.
Another notable realization of this project is the employment of former Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs abroad due to the pandemic. I was welcomed by 70 former OFWs now working the PNR Clark Phase 1 Calumpit construction yard. They are in addition to around 200 former OFWs employed by the Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Company, Ltd. and Sta. Clara International Corporations to work on the project.
Nakaramdam ‘ho ako ng magkahalong saya at pagmamahal nang sila ay magpasalamat dahil nabigyan sila ng trabaho matapos na umuwi mula sa ibang bansa dahil sa pandemiya.
More jobs are expected now that the second segment of the NSCR, the PNR Clark Phase 2 (Malolos-Clark) is also in full swing, with an overall progress rate of 28.79%. The 53-kilometer rail line will also reduce travel time to 35 minutes from 1.5 hours, and can accommodate 340,000 passengers per day. The game-changer project will feature the country’s first airport express service, which will connect Makati to Clark in only 55 minutes compared to 2-hour land travel.
Another big-ticket rail project in Bulacan is the Metro Rail Transit Line-7 (MRT-7) which will reduce travel time from North Avenue in Quezon City to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan to just 35 minutes, from the previous 2-3 hours, and can serve 300,000 – 500,000 passengers daily. Its overall progress stands at 60.67%, as of April 2021.
Meanwhile, soon to rise in the province is the Bulacan International Airport with an 8.4-kilometer tollway that will connect the gateway to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) at Marilao. Another feature of the airport is the four runways and the projected 100 million passenger capacity per year, that is also seen to expand to 200 million.
With these DOTr projects and initiatives, Bulacan will soon turn into a real socio-economic powerhouse.