P2-billion highway near Benham Rise to open before end of 2018

Victor Martin (The Philippine Star) - March 2, 2018 - 12:00am

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines  — The provincial government of Isabela is expected to open this year the P2.28-billion Sierra Madre road project that will link Region 2 to the Pacific coast nearest to the Philippine Rise.

Gov. Faustino Dy III said the 82-kilometer Ilagan City-Divilacan road that passes through the foothills of the 359,486-hectare Northern Sierra Madre mountain range will link the province to the coastal towns of Palanan, Maconacon, Divilacan, and Dinapigue.

“We are expecting the road to be accessible before the end of December this year provided there is good weather,” Dy said.

He said the road contractor has finished more than 40 kilometers of the 82-kilometer road works including road markers, signages, and other protective structures along the completed stretch of the road to ensure safety.

The completion of the project, Dy said would further prop up the economic development of the province, especially its coastal towns because of its scenic sites and tourism potentials.

Formerly called Benham Rise, the Philippine Rise is said to have huge deposits of solid nodules of methane that could potentially turn the Philippines into a natural gas exporter.

It is a seismically active undersea region estimated to cover an area of about 13 million hectares located east of Luzon and is 35 meters underwater, with the shallowest point located off the provinces of Aurora and Isabela.

The undersea region of the Philippine Rise is located approximately 250km east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue town. 

“These coastal areas have great tourism potentials especially its white beaches and freshwater areas. Through the Ilagan-Divilacan road, which is expected to be completed earlier than scheduled, would surely boost economic activity in the area,” Dy said.

The road will also make it easier for the provincial government to deliver basic services and boost economic activity in said coastal towns which at present are constantly isolated by typhoons and other calamities, Dy said.

“For so many years, villagers have been deprived of basic necessities and social services, such as health and education because there is no road that links the capitol to the coastal areas,” Dy said.

With the opening of the Sierra Madre road, the Pacific coast can now be reached by land for less than two hours, Dy added.

Vice Gov. Antonio Albano said the Ilagan-Divilacan road which starts in Barangay Cabisera 10 and Barangay Sindon Bayabo in Ilagan City and ends in Barangay Dicatian in the coastal town of Divilacan has been the long clamor of the people in the coastal areas.

Albano said the provincial government is now forming a body for a unified program for the protection of the precious rainforests and make necessary laws and regulations in all municipalities in the coastal towns.

“Before the coast gets spoiled by rampant development, we saw it fit to create a body that will supervise and develop the area in the right manner to manage its growth well for the benefit of all Isabelinos and the environment,” Albano said.

He said the committee will also guide the coastal towns to have a mutual adept program for building businesses for tourism, fishing, and assist them to make short, medium, and a long-term developmental plan.

The Quezon City-based CM Pancho Construction is now constructing seven major bridges to completely connect the road which will be ready for use before the end of 2018.

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