Yesterday, the government formally approved San Miguel Corporation's (SMC) plans to build the Pasig River Expressway (PAREX). The ambitious project will see SMC put up a 19.37-km elevated expressway that will serve as the country's first hybrid and green roadway. Once complete, it will connect Radial Road 10 in Manila with C-6 Road.

With the project green-lit, SMC is gearing up to start working on the expressway as soon as possible. But to fully maximize its use, SMC president Ramon S. Ang said that PAREX will also have bicycle lanes, walkways, and even a bus rapid transit system (BRT).

Why will PAREX come with bicycle lanes? According to the SMC boss, the expressway will not just be for motorized modes of transportation, but it will also provide a convenient route for those on two wheels.

Pasig River Expressway to have dedicated bicycle lanes image

“It will have dedicated bike lanes, walkways, a bus rapid transit system, among others. PAREX will also be for pedestrians and cyclists. It will not just be for motorized transportation and convenience, but also for maintaining our health and well-being. It will not just ‘beautify’ the surroundings--it will rehabilitate the Pasig River and inspire urban renewal in Metro Manila,” said Ang.

By riding the BRT, commuters will also be able to get to their destinations faster and easier. The idea of having a BRT system on an expressway is not exactly new. Back in April 2021, SMC announced that they are considering and planning to run the country's first BRT on Skyway 3. The goal is to have a BRT running from Susana Heights in Muntinlupa City to Balintawak in Quezon City near NLEX. At the moment, SMC is still doing studies and formulating plans which they will present to the DOTr.

“Just imagine the amount of vehicle pollution we will avoid if trips that usually take two-to-three hour-including long stretches where cars are just idling in traffic will take only 30 minutes. Also, with a BRT system, many vehicle owners will no longer find the need to drive their own cars--further lessening pollution,” added Ang.

Pasig River Expressway to have dedicated bicycle lanes image

Aside from helping cyclists and commuters, the PAREX project will also see SMC rehabilitate the polluted Pasig River. SMC's Pasig River cleanup project, which was launched last June, is a PHP 2 billion, five-year initiative that aims to remove some three million metric tons of silt and solid waste from the river.

“Under the guidance of the DENR and with the support of the LGUs, we will do the clean-up and rehabilitation ourselves. We will use the most modern equipment, which we have already acquired, and employ our own engineers and trained personnel,” shared Ang.

Ang also emphasized that with or without the PAREX project, SMC will still undertake the Pasig River cleanup as it aligns with the company’s sustainability goals.

Construction of the Pasig River Expressway could begin as early as 2022, with a goal of having it completed on or before 2027. With that kind of timeline, SMC has its work cut out for them.