Photo from SMC website

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) and government officials on Thursday broke ground on the Pasig River Expressway (Parex), which is set to be the country’s first green, hybrid expressway spanning 19.37 kilometers.

SMC will invest P95 billion to build the six-lane elevated expressway over the river, from Radial Road 10 in Manila to C-6 Road or the South East Metro Manila Expressway (Semme) in Taguig.

The groundbreaking rites were led by SMC President Ramon Ang, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Department of Transportation (DoTR) Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral, in Pandacan, Manila.

“We are happy because we have a project like this connecting north to south and east to west. Never has this connectivity been thought of, and now it is being implemented.” Tugade said in a statement released by SMC.

Parex will feature a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system aimed at easing commuting in Metro Manila. Bike lanes and pedestrian walkways will also be built to encourage environmentally friendly modes of personal transportation and exercise.

Various groups and individuals disagree with the construction of the new elevated highway, saying that building more expressways would worsen air pollution and ruin the view of certain heritage sites.

On his Facebook page, architect Paolo Alcazaren described the project as “lipstick on a pig.”

“The PAREX will compromise the river’s already precarious environmental state (the dredging is actually a pre-construction requisite to be able to build the piers for the infrastructure). It will also not solve ‘traffic’ because of the tenets of ‘induced demand,’” he said

“The river is between 60-80 meters in width and most of it will be covered…All over the world cities are actually tearing down inner-city skyways and vehicular infrastructure, which have been proven to actually add to traffic woes… while here we still repeat the mistakes western cities have made decades ago,” he added. – Joshua Babasa