As they say, the best things in life are free. It’s no wonder most motorists enjoyed using the Skyway Stage 3 when San Miguel Corporation (SMC) wasn’t collecting toll for using the elevated road yet. Unfortunately, that time is over. As a result, it’s back to EDSA, C-5, and SLEX for some.

But for our friends living in the north, there is a newly opened expressway that will be free for use. And no, they won’t be collecting toll even in the future — the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX).

Yes, the upcoming CLLEX will be free for everyone to use. It’s scheduled to open on July 15, 2021, and will reduce travel time from Tarlac City to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija from over an hour to just 20 minutes.

But why will the expressway be free of charge where others come with toll fees? According to Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo, Build, Build, Build Committee Chairperson, CLLEX is not a private-public partnership (PPP) project. Instead, it's funded directly by the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Whereas PPP projects rely on a business venture that is funded, constructed, and operated through a partnership between the government and the private sector, projects under GAA are funded and maintained by the government's annual budget. In a nutshell, the entire CLLEX was made possible with taxpayers' money.

The 30-kilometer segment of the CLLEX will connect from SCTEx/TPLEx in Tarlac City and will extend up to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija. According to the agency, the four-lane freeway will benefit around 11,200 motorists and commuters. It will also reduce traffic along Daang Hari by 48%. Tomorrow, the first 18-km segment of the expressway will be opened to the public, as work on the Cabanatuan segment is still ongoing.

In the future, CLLEX will be extended even further from Cabanatuan City to San Jose City, Nueva Ecija as part of the Phase II plan.  Once complete, CLLEX will have a total length of 65.70-km. Still, the best part? It will remain free.