Traveling to North Luzon is now a lot easier thanks to the numerous infrastructure projects initiated by the government these past few years. The same can’t be said, however, in Southern Luzon. While there is STAR Tollway going to Batangas, heading to the provinces of Quezon, Bicol, and beyond often requires motorists to pass through provincial highways and towns.
Fortunately, it seems that infrastructure planners are now giving much more attention to Southern Luzon. Apart from plans of extending the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way to Matnog in Sorsogon with the Toll Road 5 (TR5) project, there is also the Quezon-Bicol Expressway (QBEX) which will connect Pagbilao, Quezon to Maharlika Highway in San Fernando, Camarines Sur, near Naga City.
According to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the construction of QBEX (or QuBex, as there is conflicting information on the acronym) is set to begin sometime this year. Specifically, it was DPWH Secretary Mark Villar who said that start of construction of the approximately 220-km expressway will happen in 2020. However, it was not specified when it will exactly begin.
Once complete, QBEx will serve as an alternate option of travel between the provinces of Quezon and Bicol. Motorists will no longer have to contend passing through provincial highways. More importantly, it will cut travel time by hours as it bypasses current roads that pass through town centers.
With SLEX-TR5 leading towards the southernmost tip of Luzon and QBEx connecting to Camarines Sur, near Naga City, exploring the south will certainly be a lot easier once this expressway is complete. Hopefully, we will be able to explore Southern Luzon and nearby provinces a bit more once the quarantine measures are lifted. It would be a long drive from Metro Manila, but it will a different experience than taking a plane.