Top Cebu officials and private sector executives cited the bright prospects of a second economic boom of Cebu with the opening of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) in 2021.

A virtual summit on fast-tracking the development of Cebu and other areas in the Visayas region was held at the country’s second largest city in connection with the onsite inspection of this “engineering marvel” last January 23, 2020.

Outside of Metro Manila, Cebu remains the most vibrant and promising area for sustainable development, which would immensely contribute to the dramatic growth of the country gross domestic product (GDP), and therefore further enhance the Philippines’ global competitiveness, an assessment shared by these public officials and private sector executives.

ON-SITE BRIEFING. COWI Project Manager Robert Uthwatt briefs top officials led by Metro Pacific Investment Corporation president and CEO Jose Ma. K. Lim.

On March 2, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte led the groundbreaking ceremony for the project, along with Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Jose Ma. K. Lim, president and CEO of the Metro Pacific Investment Corporation (MPIC), addressing the project partners, exuded confidence when he said, “The Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway is our first huge infrastructure investment in the Visayas, and we intend to expand and strengthen our presence here.”

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo C. Labella concurred with the assessment of the top executive of the infrastructure and holding firm of the Metro Pacific Group, highlighting the readiness of this crown city of the South, and the Cebuano’s sense of pride that the Visayas can very well provide a “powerful engine of growth” for the country’s fast-growing economy.

Secretary Adelino Sitoy of the Presidential Liaison Office prepares to board the boat that will take him to the construction site.

Cordova Municipal Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho said that Cebu will once again be in the global map as one that would “leapfrog development in the South.”

Sitoy-Cho predicted accelerated growth in her town and neighboring towns when Cordova is connected with Cebu City.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) President and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco said, “This is MPTC’s biggest infrastructure project in the country, covering the construction of the CSCR on and off ramps, which will be built along the sides of the existing CSCR viaduct, main twin pylon cable-stayed bridge spanning the navigation path of Mactan Channel, a viaduct, toll plaza, and a causeway.”

Franco added: “CCLEX, already an iconic structure,” will feature a cross that will be luminous on four sides at night, as the cross highlights Cebu’s distinct role as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines.”

The Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), the firm behind CCLEX and MPTC’s subsidiary company, forged a partnership with the Cebu City Government and Cordova Municipality, to build the 8.5-km. CCLEX.

This P30-billion toll bridge project is expected to rise majestically over the Mactan Channel, connecting mainland Cebu from Cebu City’s Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) to Barangay Pilipog, Cordova in Mactan Island.

Set to be a new landmark in the country, the expressway will have two lanes in each direction that will provide a safe, quick and scenic passage to an estimated 50,000 vehicles daily, easing the traffic in the existing Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge.

CCLEX has a design speed of 80 kilometers per hour (kph) and a navigational clearance or height of 51 meters so as to allow large vessels to pass underneath the bridge.

Further expanding its clout in the tollways industry, CCLEX will be MPTC’s first expressway project outside Luzon and first public-private partnership project with local government units, bringing Cebu and the Visayas region’s infrastructure development to new heights.

Backing the construction of CCLEX is a multi-disciplined technical and management team, representing a good collaboration and coordination effort of many sectors and individuals in the engineering profession.

Composed of renowned and experienced international and local companies, Cebu Link Joint Venture (CLJV) was awarded the “Build and Design” contract for the project on December 19, 2017.

CLJV is a consortium of Spanish company Acciona Construccion S.A. and Filipino companies First Balfour, and D. M. Consunji Inc.

CCLEC also engaged the services of COWI A/S of Denmark with the Philippines’ DCCD Engineering Corporation, as its sub-consultant, to be the project’s technical advisor/owner’s engineer. Norconsult, a Norwegian consultancy firm, was also tapped as the project’s independent consultant.

CCLEX started civil works on July 5, 2018. The project is now almost halfway done after completion of the substructure of the main bridge’s two towers. Overall project progress being an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract is now at 49.85 percent. Construction progress alone stands at 31.64 percent.

CCLEX successfully conducted the lifting of the 400-ton form traveler for Towers 1 and 2. The milestone activity came after the completion of the substructures of the two towers. The form traveler will be used for bridge work and to build the pier table, which will sit atop each substructure.

Work will then subsequently start on the bridge’s deck, cable stays, and upper pylon.

Simultaneous activities at the project site are the concreting and construction of columns and piers for the bridge’s on-ramp and bored piling for the off-ramp alongside the CSCR. Gabion placement and embankment works are also underway for the permanent causeway. Work on the precast yard is also ongoing and castings of girders or beams have already started.

A total of 1,871 personnel has been fielded for the project.

As this engineering marvel rises within the three-year construction period so does the anticipation of Cebuanos in seeing this project through.

Not only is CCLEX seen to reduce traffic and make traveling more convenient but also spur trade activities and open greater economic opportunities for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas region.

CCLEX, as committed, is scheduled to be completed in 2021, in time for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianization of the Philippines.

CCLEC is a subsidiary company of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), a publicly listed infrastructure holding company and is a member of the MVP Group of Companies.

MPTC is the largest toll road concessionaire and operator in the Philippines that currently operates the 84-km. North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), 94-km. Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and the 14-km. Cavite Expressway (Cavitex). MPTC additionally has two other toll concessions currently under construction, namely the 45-km. Cavite Laguna Expressway (CALAX) and the 8-km. NLEX-SLEX Connector Road. It has now expanded its business in other Asean countries namely, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

MPIC’s Lim declared before Cebu’s “movers and shakers” with an inspired statement, “We are not only wishing for a bright future for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas; we are taking a lead role in creating that future.”

As days pass by, Cebuanos are inching closer to seeing Cebu’s first toll road that will provide the ultimate expressway experience.