Imagine getting to drive all the way to Laoag, Ilocos Norte via the Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway (TPLEX). Sounds too good to be true? Well, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) recently announced plans of actually extending the near 90-kilometer expressway all the way to the City of Laoag in Ilocos Norte.

That's right, SMC is looking to have TPLEX reach all the way to The Sunshine City in the north sometime in the future. According to Ramon S. Ang, president of SMC, the planned extension is their means of boosting tourism, as well as helping improve transportation of basic commodities.

But before SMC can extend TPLEX to Laoag, Ilocos Norte, their current goal is to extend the expressway to San Juan, La Union – a good 66-kilometer drive from Rosario, La Union where TPLEX now officially ends. Once completed, this will bring the Ilocos Region 'closer' to Manila before the end of 2022.

Once na binigyan tayo ng go signal, tuloy-tuloy kaagad ang trabaho, wala nang mobilization. Kaya sabi ko sa mga contractor, ‘yung mga heavy equipment, ‘wag niyong alisin dahil kapag binigyan tayo ng approval ni Secretary [Sonny] Dominguez, tuloy-tuloy na ‘yan,” said Ang.

[Once we’re given green light, we will start work ASAP. No more mobilization. That’s why I told our contractors to leave the heavy equipment where they are so that once Sec. Dominguez gives his approval, our work continues]

SMC plans to extend TPLEX all the way to Laoag, Ilocos Norte image

As for the plans in stretching TPLEX to Ilocos Norte, Ang said that with tourism continuing to grow in the Ilocos Region, this extension will help reduce travel time for those bound for Northern Luzon and back.

Next niyan, from San Juan, La Union, idudugtong ‘yan to Laoag [Ilocos Norte] na. Can you imagine, all of a sudden, ngayon lang with this TPLEX biglang sumikat na ‘yung Baguio eh ‘diba? Sikat na ‘yung San Juan, La Union. Dami nang taong pumupunta ng Vigan [Ilocos Sur]. What more kung mayroon ‘yang tollway all the way to Laoag,” added Ang.

[Next, we’ll connect San Juan La Union to Laoag. Can you imagine, all of a sudden, now with TPLEX, Baguio City became more popular? San Juan also became a popular destination. A lot of people also traveled to Vigan. What more if we have a tollway all the way to Laoag]

Should this ambitious plan become a reality in the near future, motorists can now go all the way to Ilocos Norte without having to go through towns and provincial roads. This would greatly reduce the travel time and make the drive less of a hassle.

We're also curious if SMC will rename TPLEX once it reaches all the way to the Ilocos Region. But until then, all we can do for now is wait until SMC gets the green light to extend the expressway to San Juan, and (maybe) eventually Laoag City.