CALAPAN CITY, Oriental Mindoro—The longest cross-sea bridge in the country, spanning 15 kilometers, is due for formal groundbreaking before the year ends, Gov. Alfonso V. Umali Jr. said Monday.
Umali said the groundbreaking will be undertaken this December after the Oriental Mindoro Sangguniang Panlalawigan formally endorsed the proposal of a private company to be its “lead project management team” to conduct the project’s feasibility study and detailed engineering design.
Engineer Ronald E. Javellana, chief executive officer of Far East Mega Builders Corp., recently submitted his proposal to the provincial government.
It asked Umali for a provincial board resolution for endorsement so that it can proceed within 90 days the engineering pre-construction feasibility study and detailed design of the superbridge.
Upon the receipt of the SP endorsement in 30 days, FEMBC will proceed with its environmental impact assessment study (EIAS); requirements for a geologic, fathometric, and environmental compliance certificate (ECC); detailed seismologic and seismotectonics analysis; and tsunami impact and other minor studies.
“The construction of the floating bridge is an extreme engineering challenge that safety is the highest priority,” Javellana explained.
“Given the significance of the project’s contribution to the sustainable economic growth and development not only of the province but of the entire Mimaropa region, it is incumbent upon us to take advantage of these opportunities for the provincial and national governments to avoid incurring the cost of such feasibility study and of undertaking the project,” Umali said in his letter to the provincial board.
The governor describes “Mindoro Superbridge” multibillion-dollar infrastructure project as the “first floating bridge in Asia.”
The ambitious infrastructure project has a construction cost of US$2.6 billion (about P130 billion). A Qatar-based foreign investor, identified only as Mr. Al Ahmad, will shell out 25 percent or $520 million for the project, while the rest of the cost will be shouldered by other local and foreign banks and investors.
“The Philippines and Mindoro and Batangas national and provincial governments will not spend a single penny in the construction of this expensive bridge project,” the governor said.
The bridge is on the National Economic and Development Authority’s list as one of the top priority projects of the government under the Public-Private Partnership framework, Umali explained.
The Mindoro Superbridge would be constructed in two stages, the Mindoro and Batangas sides, with Verde Island connecting the two stages.
The Batangas side, starting from Lobo town’s shoreline, has a length of 6.5 kilometers that ends in Verde Island. The Mindoro side, starting from Puerto Galera, has a length of 8.5 kilometers.
The superbridge would have, for both ways, four lanes and service road, and – for tourism purposes – a lane for bicycles and pedestrians on both shoulders. Two gates or high bridges on both sides of Verde Island will allow both cargo and passenger vessels to pass.
As envisioned, the bridge can withstand 350-kilometer-per-hour cyclones, and would be completed in two to four years’ time. The bridge is a combination of floating and fixed foundation, whose final design shall be approved jointly by the Office of the Provincial Governor and the Department of Public Works and Highways.
The Mindoro Superbridge, Umali said, was conceived under the PPP framework “considering its strong potential returns to the economy” and “recognizing the indispensable increased private sector participation in the development of the country.”
The superbridge will maximize the strategic location of Mindoro Island as “Luzon’s gateway to the South” to the island provinces of Visayas and Mindanao, according to a DPWH statement.
“It will not only boost agriculture and tourism, but will open up roads to faster transport of goods, services and people along the existing nautical highway,” District Engineer Nestor del Rosario of DPWH Oriental Mindoro said.