The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has announced that Phase 1 of the 30-kilometer long Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) is now 94% complete. According to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, the government agency has plans to open the first 18-kilometers of the roadway to the public soon with the remaining sections to be finished later on. Part of the 18-km long stretch of roadway is the Tarlac and Rio Chio Bridge segments, which cover a distance of 10.5km. Another nearby section, the 9.2-km long Aliaga segment is also set to be completed soon with construction reportedly being at 87% complete. Together these two will form the initial 18-km stretch of road that will be opened to the public.

The original plan of the DPWH was to open the first phase of the expressway in April. However, due to the ongoing pandemic as well as health restrictions and requirements work on the roadway had to be temporarily suspended.  It is important to note that work on the Aliaga and Zaragoza Interchange section of the roadway had to be stopped from April 7 to May 16, 2021, due to the needed health requirements mandated by the Aliaga Municipal Health Center management. 

While these requirements pushed the deadline back even further to May, the new July 2021, opening now seems feasible as work is now progressing at a steady pace. This includes the 10.3-km Cabanatuan Section which is now at 88% and is steadily progressing with each passing day. There is also the Zaragoza section of the roadway which is also moving along nicely but requires the construction of the Zaragoza Bridge Interchange along with the 4.88-km worth of access roads, two pre-stressed concrete girder bridges, five reinforced box culverts for farm passage, and seven irrigation canals. 

Given that the roadway is set to partially open soon motorists will have a faster way to reach their destinations in either Tarlac City or in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija. The expressway is expected to reduce travel time between these two cities from 70 minutes down to just 20 minutes with the added effect of easing traffic congestion in the Daang Mahalika area. While it will only be partially opened in July, CLLEX is expected to extend all the way to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija under Phase 2 of the project. Once the entire length of the expressway is complete it is expected to span a distance of between 65 to 70-km.

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