The Philippine government’s P175-billion Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge is now closer to fruition after the project has secured loan financing from Manila-based multilateral lender Asian Development Bank (ADB).

As early as July, the project implementer Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said it is eyeing to secure funding from the ADB to bankroll the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge.

In a statement on Tuesday, the ADB said it approved financing of up to $2.1 billion for the construction of the 32.15-kilometer bridge that would connect the provinces of Bataan and Cavite across Manila Bay.

The lender said the bridge project will be bankrolled through a multi-tranche financing facility, the first tranche of which will amount to $650 million.

The Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge project is one of the Marcos administration’s flagship infrastructure projects.

The project is envisioned to complete the transport loop around Manila Bay and better link Metro Manila to central Luzon and nearby Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces, according to the ADB.

The Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge project will help boost economic activity in these areas, which together account for 60% of the country’s gross domestic product, the lender said.

“This project will transform the economic landscape of central Luzon, unlock the full potential of Bataan and Cavite for trade, manufacturing, and industrial output, and boost their tourism,” said ADB vice-president for East and Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Scott Morris.

“Once completed, Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge will offer a platform for reimagining a more vibrant, resilient, and dynamic greater Manila Bay area,” said Morris.

The DPWH is targeting to start construction of the bridge project by 2024.

The project will be divided into seven contract packages with the construction to begin first in the two on-land packages. Package 1 is the five-kilometer Bataan Land Approach and Package 2 is the 1.35-kilometer Cavite Land Approach.

Packages 3 and 4 are Marine Viaducts in the North and South with a total length of 20.65 kilometers.

Meanwhile, Packages 5 and 6 are the North Channel and South Channel Bridges with a length of 2.15 and 3.15 kilometers, respectively.

The 7th package involves project-wide ancillary works.

The 32.15-kilometer, four-lane inter-island bridge will connect Barangay Alas-asin in Mariveles, Bataan, and Barangay Timalan Concepcion in Naic, Cavite.

The bridge will have two navigational bridges, the 400-meter North Channel Bridge and the 900-meter South Channel Bridge, that are expected to traverse Corregidor Island.

About 80% of the structure will be over the sea.

The bridge is also seen to decongest traffic in Metro Manila, help reduce prices of goods and services as transport and logistics costs would be decreased, and create economic opportunities in Bataan and Cavite as well as their adjacent provinces.

“The Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge represents the latest installment in ADB’s broader agenda of support towards strengthening urban and regional transport networks in and around greater Manila. This includes the South Commuter Railway, Malolos Clark Railway, and two other projects currently being prepared for financing—the Metro Manila Rail Transit Line 4 and the Laguna Lakeshore Road Network,” said Morris.

These projects will expand and transform the transport network in the metropolis, improve regional connectivity, and offer Filipinos access to more job opportunities,”  he added.

The ADB said the project will cut travel time between Bataan and Cavite to 1.5 hours from five hours, and to about two hours from fours hours between Bataan and Metro Manila.

Moreover, the traffic decongestion in Metro Manila and the reduced travel time will help lower annual greenhouse gas emissions in the country by an estimated 79,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, the bank said. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News