A 32-KILOMETER-LONG interisland bridge that will cut travel time between the provinces of Bataan and Cavite from more than three hours to just 20 to 30 minutes will break ground later this year, Public Works and Highways Secretary Manuel Bonoan announced Tuesday.

DPWH Secretary Bonoan said the Department of Public Works and Highways informed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during a sectoral meeting in Malacañang on Tuesday that the project will be implemented this year, with its detailed engineering plan already 70 percent completed.

“The detailed engineering is now ongoing; it’s about 70 percent complete. We told the President it would be ready within the year to ground break the implementation of this very significant bridge,” Bonoan told reporters at a Palace press briefing.

The construction of the bridge, to be funded through an official development assistance (ODA) by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), will start late this year and is expected to be completed in five years.

“We will try to have this completed before the term of the President ends,” the DPWH chief said.

The P175-billion bridge will permanently connect the two provinces in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog region, dramatically reducing the travel time and alleviating traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

“No less than the ADB has indicated that the economic rate of return of this bridge is more than 25 percent. It’s really big,” Bonoan said.

The bridge will start in Barangay Alas-asin in Mariveles, Bataan, crossing Manila Bay, and end in Barangay Timalan in Naic, Cavite.

The project will involve the construction of two cable-stayed navigation bridges, the North Channel Bridge with a main span of 400 m and the South Channel Bridge with a 900 m main span, standing at a water depth of approximately 50 m. Land viaducts, marine viaducts, and ancillary buildings will also be constructed under the project.

Bonoan said the government has other bridge projects, including the six that will be constructed across Pasig River.

Three of the bridges will also be funded through ODA from the ADB, while the other three will be funded through an ODA from a Chinese bank.

“These are the projects that have been presented by the President during his visit in China,” the DPWH official said.

Bonoan said they also presented to the President the other projects for groundbreaking, including the buildings for the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Philippine General Hospital Pediatric and Adult Specialty Center, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and the Philippine Cancer Center in Quezon City.