A world-class 8.9-kilometer modern toll expressway is helping hasten Cebu’s economic recovery following the devastating pandemic—by easing traffic flow in metro Cebu, increasing land values, enhancing mobility, elevating tourism activities, and spur growth of trade.
The recently opened Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) is also enhancing the appeal of Cebu as a tourist destination, showing that socio-economic benefits that accrue to the province are matched by the finest engineering marvel of the towering beauty.
These and more, according to a study made by the Center for Social Research and Education of the University of San Carlos (USC), Cebu’s leading educational institution.
Built at a cost of more than P30 billion, the third and newest bridge to connect mainland Cebu with the island of Mactan, is helping decongest the two older bridges that also span the Mactan Channel—the perennially traffic-clogged Mactan-Mandaue and Marcelo Fernan bridges.
CCLEX, the biggest project outside Luzon of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), the Philippines’ largest toll road developer and operator, was inaugurated on April 27, 2022, and opened to the motoring public on April 30, 2022, after four years of non-stop work.
Reduced Travel Time. Prior to the pandemic, the study noted that travel to Cordova or Lapu-Lapu City averaged at 82 to 85 minutes. But CCLEX, among its key benefits, has hugely cut the travel time, since people will no longer need to go through the two old bridges to reach Cebu City.
“CCLEX will reduce travel time 20 to 75 percent from the SRP (south road properties) in Cebu City to subdivisions, beach resorts, hotels, and establishments in Cordova, Marigondon, Agus, Maribago, Basak, Bankal, and Punta Engano in Mactan Island by, depending on the distance of their locations from the Gabi Bridge or Pilipog Bridge in Cordova,” the study reveals. Notwithstanding a toll fee, motorists still realize benefits in terms of time saved.
On top of this, the anticipated opening of the Cordova Gabi-Pilipog Coastal Road in a few weeks is expected to further expand the road network in the Mactan Circumferential Road and help decongest traffic in the area.
The project, which is being undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways 7, is expected to be passable by August in time for the IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines. It will be used as part of the race route for the event that highlights CCLEX on the 90-kilometer bike route.
With the diversion of traffic, the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu is expected then to indirectly benefit as vehicular traffic in Mactan-Mandaue and Marcelo Fernan bridges will be decongested. Traffic on major roads in Cebu City will also be eased.
Land Values. With increased accessibility and reduced travel time, land resources will also become more accessible.
In Cordova alone, the study pointed out that residential locations have become more attractive and the town’s proximity to Cebu City have made it a potential relocation area for businesses.
Cordova’s land values have increased dramatically from between P2,000 to P5,000 per square meter to as high as P15,000 to P30,000 per square meter.
“These new municipal values are already around 400 percent to 1,000 percent of the land values three years ago, according to the municipal assessor. With the increase of land values, they expect revenue collection to also increase,” USC said.
“With more investors showing interest in putting up businesses in the municipality, Cordova officials are also expecting economic activity to become more vibrant than it currently is,” they added.
USC forecasted that CCLEX will become a catalyst of socio-economic development in the town and in the neighboring cities and municipalities.
Movement, Tourism. As it provides additional link to mainland Cebu and Mactan Island, the study says CCLEX brings enhanced mobility, which can translate into cost savings in terms of time saved and lower maintenance of transport vehicles, among others.
This improvement could spur economic activity among locations that are connected to the expressway directly or indirectly since travel and transport of goods becomes faster and more viable.
“CCLEX links high population growth areas and established commercial and industrial centers. The movement of people will be relatively high as a consequence as persons move for employment, business, or leisure,” said USC.
Tourism – a key driver of Cebu’s economic growth – is also expected to be particularly energized by CCLEX. In fact, the iconic 8.9-kilometer engineering marvel and modern toll expressway is now the country’s largest and tallest water-crossing infrastructure today, and the bridge is fast becoming a “must-see” tourist attraction itself while offering scenic views of Cebu’s skyline to motorists.
Moreover, the study noted that Lapu-Lapu City accounts for 56 percent of resort hotel rooms in the province accredited by the Department of Tourism, bulk of these are in the resorts on the eastern part of Mactan, which are near CCLEX.
“CCLEX could then allow tourists based in these resorts to access destinations in Cebu City and the southern parts of Cebu with greater ease,” they said.
Cebu City, on the other hand, accounts for 62 percent of the conventional hotel rooms, USC said. The direct link then of Cebu City to Mactan through CCLEX provides for easier access and a more frequent visit to the tourist facilities in Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova.
Also, the South Road Properties (SRP) in Cebu City has been envisioned to become a “modern integrated coastal city.”
“The addition of the CCLEX link effectively extends development effects of SRP to the Municipality of Cordova and opens up the tourism in the eastern side of Mactan to residents from southern Cebu, and the SRP’s commercial developments to residents and tourists based in Mactan Island,” USC added.
Adding value to the tourists and motorists experience on CCLEX, it has already started the partial implementation of its electronic toll collection system for safer, faster, and more seamless drive.
Registration for CCLEX RFID is ongoing at cclex.com.ph. Installation of RFID tags on vehicles is also ongoing and for free. CCLEX users can top up their RFIDs in just a few taps anytime and anywhere by downloading the MPT DriveHub app at https://qrco.de/DriveHubPR-1.
Finally, since the CCLEX is a Private-Public Partnership project of the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC) and the local government units of Cebu City and the Municipality of Cordova, even the toll that the bridge collects contribute to the growth of the two public partners.
Under the 45-year concession agreement that the two government units awarded to CCLEC to build, operate and maintain CCLEX, Cebu and Cordova allowed their resources, specifically public lands, to be used by the project as their contribution to the joint venture. In return, they both receive one percent of the project’s gross revenues starting on the first year of operations.
Clearly, the CCLEX is a bridge to the rapid post-Covid socioeconomic growth and recovery not only of Cebu but that of the entire Central Visayas region.