SAN Miguel Corp. (SMC) and the provincial government of Batangas have signed a joint venture agreement for the P44.77-billion Nasugbu-Bauan Expressway (NBEx) project.

The conglomerate’s infrastructure arm, SMC Infrastructure, was given a 35-year concession to design, build, operate and maintain the proposed four-lane, 61-kilometer (km) toll road that SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang described as “a project that will further unlock the economic potential of Batangas.”

The NBEx, which will begin in Barangay Kaylaway, Nasugbu town, will run parallel to Tagaytay-Nasugbu and Palico-Balayan highways. A terminus in Barangay Kaylaway will connect the expressway to another SMC Infrastructure project, the Cavite-Batangas Expressway, which leads to Tagaytay City and Silang, Cavite.

Section 1 will be a 10.78-km segment stretching from Barangay Kaylaway to Barangay Banilad in Nasugbu town; Section 2 is a 13.03-km segment from Barangay Banilad to Balayan town; Section 3 is a 16.3-km segment from Balayan to Lemery, and Section 4 is a 20.79-km segment from Lemery to Bauan.

The project is expected to improve travel across towns throughout Batangas, particularly the first district. Once complete, it will make Nasugbu, Balayan, Lemery, Bauan, the City of Calaca and other municipalities more accessible. The transport of people and goods will be easier, faster and more efficient, resulting in lower business costs and increased economic activity.

Ang said that the NBEx would cut travel time between Nasugbu and Bauan by half, from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes. It will also reduce the usual five-hour trip to and from Manila to only two hours.

Batangas Gov. Herminilando Mandanas said “this project will drive a lot of development for our province and for our towns here in the first district.”

The target for substantial completion is 48 months, including 12-month development of the detailed engineering design.

“NBEx is an exciting opportunity for us to come together once again and work toward our common goal of building a better future for our beloved Batanguenos,” Ang said.

“We look forward to working with Governor Mandanas and the rest of the province’s leaders and stakeholders to make this a reality,” he added.

The NBEx will be the latest addition to SMC’s infrastructure portfolio. SMC also operates the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway; the Skyway System that connects Balintawak to Makati through an elevated expressway; the South Luzon Expressway; and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road Tollway.