Metro Manila is congested as hell, we all know that. Thankfully, I live in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, which means I rarely have to deal with traffic. However, if there’s a need for me to drive to Metro Manila or even to northern Luzon, there’s always this notion that I have to wake up early in order to beat the traffic. With the completion of Skyway Stage 3, that notion is now a thing of the past.
Skyway Stage 3 is a joint project between San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The purpose of this complex marvel of engineering (we’ll get to that later) is simple: to provide the missing link between South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). Instead of traversing C5, A. Bonifacio, or the infamous EDSA and deal with congestion for hours on end, Skyway Stage 3 drastically shortens the travel time from SLEX to NLEX (and vice-versa) to just 15 minutes based on how I timed it. The experience was definitely mind-blowing, and it’s something that completely revolutionized the way I travel. Here are a few reasons why:
No Need To Wake Up Early
As mentioned in my introduction, whenever I need to drive to northern Luzon or even just to Metro Manila, there’s this need for me to wake up in the wee hours of the morning in order to beat traffic. During my recent solo road trip to Clark, Pampanga, I was confident enough to wake up much later than usual. I decided to leave the house at 10 am, and though I encountered slight congestion at the Alabang area due to SMC further extending Skyway to Susanna Heights, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the trip. No kidding.
From Buendia to NLEX, all it took was around 15 minutes–a huge improvement compared to what would normally take as much as two hours since Metro Manila is severely congested. In addition, Skyway Stage 3 became an awesome way to view the Makati skyline. It looked surreal traveling above Metro Manila, swooping around high-rise buildings just like one would experience in Tokyo’s lovely Shuto Expressway.
SMC is also proud to showcase that Skyway Stage 3 is an impressive feat of engineering. A number of sections of the elevated expressway are stacked on top of each other. Yes, there are portions that turn into a double-decker, with the southbound direction often going on top of the northbound sections. Skyway Stage 3 is the first-of-its-kind in the Philippines and hopefully not the last as well.
Reduced Driver Fatigue
It’s no question that driving around Metro Manila is stressful and tiring, especially if you’re coming from the province. Pre-Skyway Stage 3, my normal routine whenever I drive to northern Luzon is to always stop at Petron Marilao or at Shell NLEX Northbound in Balagtas, either to have breakfast or just to stand and relieve my sore butt. During my recent trip to Clark, Pampanga, I did not even consider going through my usual stops or to any gas station for that matter.
Because of this, I was once again mind blown to find out that I only spent just a little over two hours and thirty-five minutes traveling from Sta. Rosa, Laguna to Clark, Pampanga. Travel time going back to Laguna is even shorter at two hours and twenty minutes since there was literally no congestion on my way home. With a distance of around 122 kilometers end-to-end, this meant I had an average speed of around 47 kph going to Clark and an even faster 51 kph going back to Sta. Rosa. I initially couldn’t believe my computation, but when I think about it even deeper, it starts to make sense.
Only a few meters separate our house from the nearest on-ramp to Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX), which is also linked to SLEX. From there, my trip to and from Clark, Pampanga is more than 95 percent (no kidding) via an expressway. Think about it. The only thing that literally separates our home from Clark, Pampanga is a network of expressways. No EDSA or C5 to deal with ever again. It’s completely mind-blowing how suddenly easy it is for someone from Laguna to travel up north. This massive improvement in my travel time is the perfect opportunity to explain my final point.
Less Vehicle Wear and Tear
Going through the congestion of Metro Manila can often take a toll on a vehicle’s mechanicals. Since most of our car’s life is spent in stop-and-go traffic, the clutch (if you drive a manual), brakes and other components will wear out much faster than if the roads were clear. Now with Skyway Stage 3, not only are travel times faster, but our cars don’t have to endure so much punishment while crawling through traffic. Let’s not forget that if you’re on an elevated road, you also have a better chance of avoiding floods. And then for cars with an engine start/stop system (which you can easily deactivate), there’ll be much less wear and tear in the engine components since the engine doesn’t need to turn on and off in quick successions as much if the roads are clear.
More Time Spent Doing What Matters Most
The potential positive effects of Skyway Stage 3 are most than just improved traffic. Those that will rely on it will immediately feel the positive psychological and emotional effects it brings from being able to arrive at your destination early. Since you do not have to deal with Metro Manila’s congestion anymore, you finally have more precious time to spend time with your loved ones or your friends (post-pandemic, of course). No more apologies for being late to a meeting or regrets for missing out on life’s most important events.
So, what’s next after Skyway Stage 3? Well, there’s the upcoming NLEX-SLEX Connector, which is a project between DPWH and NLEX Corporation. It’s another link that bridges SLEX and NLEX, but this will mainly cater to trucks that need to get to the Porto of Manila. Yes, there’ll be no truck ban at this toll road, meaning it should further help free up traffic in Metro Manila.
Inevitably, the glamour of Skyway Stage 3 (along with these upcoming projects) will eventually fade into the background, especially to a newer generation of drivers who have never experienced the need to travel through the congestion of Metro Manila just to reach the two expressways. For those who did such as our generation, may we never take this expressway for granted. Let this be a reminder to our future petrolheads how much different the situation was during our time.