Freeman Region

Longest bridge to be built soon

Gilbert P. Bayoran - The Freeman

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — The 19-kilometer bridge, which will link Panay to Guimaras and Negros, may soon be a reality, according to Public Works and Highway Secretary Mark Villar.

Villar, who led the inauguration of the newly opened P365-million Singcang–Magsaysay flyover in Bacolod last Tuesday, said the preparatory works for the bridge will start next year.

“When completed, it will be the longest bridge in the country,” said Villar, adding that its construction could cost up to $2 billion. “Despite doubts that it is just a pipe dream, it will be a reality, he added.

The San Juanico Bridge that connects Samar and Leyte, and currently the longest bridge in the Philippines, is only two kilometers long.

The planned Panay-Guimaras-Negros Bridge is being expected to boost the economies of three Visayan island provinces.

 “We'll do our best …but definitely that's our desire to finish or at least significantly finish it,” Villar said.

The proposal to connect Iloilo to Negros started during the administration of then President Corazon Aquino. It also cropped up during the administrations of Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III.

He added that a full feasibility study (for the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge) is being done now through a grant from China, which also volunteered to do a full-blown study.

“Next year we can expect the preparatory works to start the construction,” he said, pointing out that the Panay-Guimaras and Guimaras-Negros sections will be undertaken simultaneously by the Chinese.

“The Negros stretch might take longer because of its length,” Villar said. The bridge will have to stretch all the way to Negros to ensure that the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is profitable. (FREEMAN)

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