Your road trips to the north just received a much-deserved ‘extension’ with a new segment of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) opening up to motorists last weekend.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has announced that the stretch of TPLEX from Urdaneta City-Binalonan segment is now operational and will benefit about 20,000 vehicles on a daily basis.

This newly opened 4.92-kilometer segment will reduce travel time from Tarlac to Urdaneta from two hours and 30 minutest to only 40 minutes.

“The Duterte administration is fast-tracking the construction of all projects to ensure that communities are livable, safe and accessible. The opening of this segment would cut travel time from Tarlac to Urdaneta by over 70 percent and would ensure easy access to many tourist destinations in Pangasinan,” said DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar.

Increased road networks are a high priority for the DPWH and the Duterte administration in order to facilitate commerce outside of Metro Manila and to “strengthen agricultural and rural enterprise productivity as well as urban and rural tourism.”

The next stage of TPLEX construction is the 7.53-kilometer stretch from Binalonan-Pozzurubio, which is currently at 61-percent completion and is on track to be finished by December 2016.

“We want the next segment completed in time for the Christmas season as this road would further reduce travel time to Baguio City and other areas of Northern Luzon and the Cordilleras. Procrastinating contractors have no place in this administration. The moment we delay our projects, we deny the Filipino people their right to demand prudent use of their tax money,” added Villar.

The entire 88.85-kilometer TPLEX, which costs Php 24.4-billion, is expected to be fully operational by 2018 and will be able to serve over 100,000 vehicles per day.