After facing several delays due to the pandemic, the country's first true freeway is now a reality.

As promised by The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the first 18-kilometer section of the Central Luzon Link Expressway (CLLEX) has officially been opened to motorists.

The opening of CLLEX means motorists can now travel from Tarlac City in Tarlac to the intersection of Aliaga-Guimba Road in Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. The toll-free expressway was made possible with funding assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the government's Build, Build, Build program.

Toll-free Central Luzon Link Expressway now open image

Despite the partial opening of the expressway, the DPWH is committed to completing the entire 30-km freeway project. The agency is currently finishing road works on the final 12-km section of CLLEX. This includes the 10.3-km Cabanatuan section, which is 89% complete, and the Zaragoza Interchange Section currently at 27%.

The DPWH expects that progress on both the Cabanatuan and Zaragoza sections will gain significant progress once the project's right-of-way (ROW) requirements are secured. The DPWH has yet to give out an exact timeline of when will the final segments be completed. However, we won't be surprised that they will be able to finish the entire project before the year ends.

Toll-free Central Luzon Link Expressway now open image

Once the 30-km roadway is fully opened, the DPWH estimates that around 11,200 motorists and commuters will benefit from using the four-lane freeway. It's also set to reduce traffic along Daang Maharlika by 48% and reduce travel time between the cities of Tarlac and Cabanatuan from 70 minutes to just 20 minutes.

In the future, CLLEX will be extended from Cabanatuan City to San Jose City in Nueva Ecija under the project's Phase II. Once that's finished, CLLEX will have an entire length of 65.70-km.