San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and the local government unit (LGU) of Pangasinan today signed a toll concession and joint venture agreement (JVA) for the 76.80-kilometer Pangasinan Link Expressway (PLEX) project.

The project, which will begin at the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) exit in Binalonan, is part of SMC’s larger plan to strengthen the road networks in Central and Northern Luzon.

This development also aims to create a seamless link to the soon-to-be-launched New Manila International Airport (NMIA) in Bulacan, set to be the Philippines’ premier international gateway.

PLEX will consist of two phases: Phase 1 will extend 42.76 km. from TPLEX to Lingayen, while Phase 2 will extend all the way to Alaminos, Pangasinan.

At the sidelines of the formal signing ceremony in Pangasinan, SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang said: “We are grateful to the Pangasinan provincial government for their passion and commitment to boost Pangasinense life through this landmark project. More than just building a major infrastructure project, we have an opportunity to improve the lives of so many of our countrymen here.”

He added: “With PLEX connecting to other infrastructure such as TPLEX, which will support access to the NMIA, this project will significantly benefit Pangasinan’s local industries, home-grown products, and agricultural sector. At the same time, the rich history, culture, and cuisine of the province will be even more accessible to more Filipinos.”

Phase 1 of PLEX will be split into three segments: the first 6.90-km section from Binalonan to Manaoag, followed by an 11.30-km section from Manaoag to Calasiao, and the third segment, the 22.17-km section from Calasiao to Lingayen.

A 2.39-km spur road will also be buit in Calasiao. Meanwhile, Phase 2 of the project will be a demand-driven expansion all the way to Alaminos, Pangasinan.

Pangasinan Governor Ramon V. Guico III lauded the partnership, underscoring the project’s role in helping spur economic activity in the province and unlocking growth in different parts of Pangasinan.

 “Through the PLEX, we shall have a very systematic approach in navigating Pangasinan, creating a roadmap never before imagined possible for our province,” said Guico III, adding that Phase 1 of the project would reduce travel time from Binalonan to Lingayen to just 20-30 minutes from the current 1 hour 30 to 1 hour and 45 minutes.

“PLEX is one of the most important projects, a game-changer for Pangasinan and for this administration. This is because it is envisioned to reinvent the transportation and enrich the tourism landscape; prioritize accessibility of citizens to major towns and cities, magnify business and livelihood opportunities, multiply economic activity, build more infrastructure, and protect the environment,” he added.

For his part, Vice-Governor Mark Lambino said: “The forging of the agreements will finally set in motion what many of us dreamed of–a better, safer road network not only in Pangasinan, but the entire Ilocos region…. We express our gratitude to San Miguel Corporation led by its visionary president and chief executive officer Mr. Ramon S. Ang for extending his hand to enter into this joint venture agreement with Pangasinan.”

“This agreement is a historic collaboration and a testament to our shared commitment to nation-building,” Lambino added.

Beyond connectivity, PLEX is set to bridge the province’s east and west corridors, stimulating economic activity. SMC will shoulder the construction costs, with zero expense for national or provincial governments. Furthermore, the LGU is poised to receive a substantial share of the project’s earnings.

This endeavor is seen to fuel growth for Pangasinan’s micro and small businesses, offering increased job opportunities for locals.