It's official: starting July 12, the entire 18-kilometer stretch of Skyway 3 will no longer be toll-free. This comes after San Miguel Corporation (SMC) announced that they have secured a Toll Operating Permit and a Notice to Start Collecting Toll by the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB).

With that, Class 1 vehicles will have to shell out between PHP 105 to PHP 264 while Class 2 vehicles will have to pay between PHP 210 and PHP 528 to drive on Skyway 3. But what about Class 3 vehicles?

According to Ramon S. Ang, president of SMC, the elevated expressway will be a no-truck zone – meaning big rigs will not be allowed to travel on Skyway 3. In a statement, Ang said that to ensure the safety of motorists using the elevated roadway, Skyway 3 will only cater to Class 1 and Class 2 vehicles with AutoSweep RFID stickers.

So how will cargo trucks be able to travel between NLEX and SLEX? This is where the NLEX Connector comes in.

Why there are no Class 3 toll fees on Skyway 3? image

The 8-km elevated roadway will connect Harbor Link and Skyway 3. More importantly, it will serve as a direct link for truckers to get from the Port of Manila to the south of the metro, and vice versa. It will traverse C3 Road in Caloocan City, pass through Abad Santos, Dimasalang, Magsaysay Boulevard, and eventually reach Skyway 3 near the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Currently, work on the first 5-km section of the NLEX Connector is 37% complete, with plans to open it to traffic sometime this year. The latest section of the project is currently being built inside the Philippine National Railways tracks. Construction work continues between Harbor Link-Caloocan Interchange along C3 Road/5th Avenue and Espana Boulevard in Sampaloc, Manila. This section will have on and off-ramps in Espana Interchange and will allow direct access to NLEX for Manila motorists.

As for the remaining 3-km segment between Espana Interchange and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, work has already begun this month.

So while trucks may not be able to traverse Skyway 3, NLEX Connector will serve as an alternate way for big rigs (as well as private vehicles) to travel between NLEX and SLEX.