"Improving our road networks and highways will significantly enhance accessibility of distant areas."
Among the many things we learned and realized during this pandemic is the importance of infrastructure development, particularly the development of the road networks in provinces and far-flung areas. The benefits of investing on rural road networks are far-reaching, literally and figuratively. Aside from improving mobility of people and goods, extensive road networks in provinces provide faster and easier delivery of public services, especially health.
Quezon Province has been dubbed as the gateway to the south, with only roughly 90-kilometer distance from Manila. The scenic highways of Quezon are well-known to those who have been traveling from Manila to southern Luzon and Visayas, and vice versa. However, the long and wearying journey to reach ports has always been its downside.
Thankfully, the opening of the San Andres port significantly reduced travel time from Manila to Masbate and other parts of Visayas. Apart from that, it can be recalled that last year, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has started construction of the South Luzon Expressway Toll Road 4 (SLEX-TR4) that will cut travel time from Manila to Batangas and Quezon by as much as three (3) hours. Once completed, travelers and tourists from Manila may reach Lucena, Quezon in just an hour.
To augment this great development, the province of Quezon proposes the construction of a new four-lane superhighway connecting the SLEX-TR-4 in Lucena to the San Andres port. The San Andres port caters to both cargo and passengers going to Masbate and other islands in the Visayas such as Samar and Leyte. The port, however, is around 130 kilometers away from Quezon’s capital. From Lucena, if you travel by car, it will take around four hours to reach the port. This new superhighway will then shorten the distance by half and will likewise lessen travel time to two hours. With this and the TR-4 project, it will only take at least three hours to reach San Andres port and board a RoRo.
This is a very promising project. Aside from benefitting travelers and motorists, the new highway opens more opportunities for trade, investments, and progress to the rest of Quezon. It will foster improvement in the service of public utilities in municipalities traversed by this highway by making these areas more accessible. This may also effect lower prices of goods and services as transportation costs will be reduced. Moreover, this has a domino effect of benefitting other provinces as well, with the increase in the volume of travelers and expeditious delivery of goods. Necessarily, ports have to be rehabilitated and improved to accommodate larger volumes of people and cargo. Road networks in other provinces shall also be expanded to adapt to these developments. All in all, this will serve as an impetus for inclusive rural growth.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, I urge the government to revisit such infrastructure programs to spur economic recovery of the nation. For many years, this golden age of infrastructure through the Build, Build, Build program has been the springboard for national economic development. Improving our road networks and highways will significantly enhance accessibility of distant areas that will be beneficial not only to the government but to the residents and the public as well, especially in this time of emergency. This will strengthen not only trade and commerce but also the health and security of our people for all time.