Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pushing for several infrastructure projects to support the rise of Pampanga Golden Triangle as the next megalopolis in Luzon.
Arroyo, who earlier tapped renowned urban planner Felino Palafox Jr., to draft a development plan to develop the Pampanga Golden Triangle, said the plan involves building new roads, mass transit systems and regional transport networks.
"Access and connectivity of all cities and municipalities in Pampanga is critical to its social, environmental and economic growth," said Arroyo, who also served as Speaker of the House of Representatives and congresswoman of Pampanga's Second District.
Arroyo, who serves as the presidential adviser on Clark programs and projects, envisions Pampanga to be a well-connected province to attract more investments and economic activities.
"For industries to be able to thrive and new economic opportunities and investments to materialize, transportation access is one of the major considerations and factors for development," she said.
She said that in consultation with local officials and business groups, the plan is to build a circumferential road and growth corridor to interconnect all the cities and municipalities of Pampanga.
Priority and supplementary road projects will complete the circumferential road.
Arroyo said to address the traffic congestion along MacArthur Highway, particularly along the San Fernando-Angeles and Angeles-Mabalacat sections, a sustainable mass transport system was proposed, including feeder system loops and inter-modal stations.
Through an intermodal mass transport system approach, more than 10 modes of transportation were integrated into the plan.
These projects will be supported by regional transport networks such as the proposed Bataan-Cavite Link which could be in the form of a bay bridge or tunnel at the mouth of Manila Bay and which could also be a part of the proposed circumferential road that will connect Pampanga to Calabarzon.
The project is expected to enable the transport of people and goods between the two regions without having to traverse the congested roads of Metro Manila.
Arroyo said the plan also involves the construction of roads to provide better connectivity between tourism destinations in Pampanga, which is blessed with rich ecological diversity, culture and history. Pampanga's development framework strategy follows the clustering for the Pampanga Megalopolis into tourism circuits.
Among the priority projects eyed are Candaba Wetland and Nature Park, Floridablanca Astroscience Center, Mt. Arayat Eco-Adventure Park as well as tourism information centers, information kiosks and tourism circuits.
Aside from land transport, the plan also pushes for the development of Pampanga's water resources.
The development of water retaining ponds and reservoirs is expected to mitigate flooding during rainy seasons and become a source of water during dry season.
Cities and municipalities could also invest and develop water treatment plants and distribution systems to provide clean water for domestic and industrial use.
Arroyo said disaster resilience and flood protection should be integrated in the infrastructure plan.
"Pampanga, being exposed to numerous natural hazards, should address flooding, for it to better protect its industries and economic interests, as well as the health and quality of life of Kapampangans," she said.
To generate more jobs and create more economic opportunities for the people, the plan also covers agro-industrial development zones.
Arroyo said these zones will attract investors to introduce new products, manage supply chains with best practices and export products to the huge Asian markets.
"With a progressive approach through the Agropolis and Aquapolis, Pampanga will move towards a progressive future anchored on growing a menu of commodities for value-added processing, catering to import substitution as well as the export market.
This can evolve within the next five years as interventions are put in place," she said.
The overall plan starts with the Pampanga Golden Triangle which consists of the cities of Angeles, San Fernando and Mabalacat as well as the municipalities of Porac, Floridablanca, Lubao, Guagua, Santa Rita and Bacolor.
These cities and municipalities represent fast-growing as well as high-density settlements within Pampanga.
The area also spans Clark Freeport Zone and Clark International Airport.