The North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is the main transport corridor from the Manila metropolitan area to central and north Luzon; there is no viable alternative for travellers. Built between 1975 and 1977 by the Department of Public Works and Highways, the expressway operated as a toll road. Originally, the expressway was franchised to a private company; however, this was later taken over by the Government and renamed the Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC). Under PNCC management, the expressway was not adequately maintained. In addition, growing traffic volume meant that the expressway capacity could no longer meet commuter needs. By the mid-1990s, about 160,000 vehicles travelled on the expressway each day, but with narrow lanes and heavy traffic, congestion became a major problem. The expressway also experienced a large number of avoidable accidents and deaths over the years.
The North Luzon Expressway runs from Balintawak, Quezon City to Sta. Ines in Pampanga, a total distance of 84 kilometers. The expressway has 15 exits and interchanges: Balintawak Toll Plaza, Valenzuela Interchange, Meycauayan Interchange, Marilao Interchange, Bocaue Toll Plaza, Bocaue Interchange, Tabang Toll Plaza, Balagtas Interchange, Sta. Rita Interchange, Pulilan Interchange, San Simon Interchange, San Fernando Interchange, Mexico Interchange, Angeles Interchange, Dau Toll Plaza, and the Dau Interchange
In the early 1990s, the Government of the Philippines passed legislation that promoted and regulated the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in repairing existing infrastructure and building new projects. The Build-OperateTransfer (BOT) Law of 1993 (as amended in 1994) provided the opportunity to utilize a BOT-type approach to modernizing the North Luzon Expressway. With improvements needed for the expressway and limited funding available from the Department of Public Works and Highways, a BOT contract was pursued. A PPP was granted a 30-year BOT contract with the Government to revitalize the Expressway. The North Luzon Expressway underwent repairs and expansion between early 2003 and February 2005, with the project completed on time and under budget. During that time, construction occurred on 14 interchanges, 24 bridges, 31 overpasses and 3 toll plazas.
Tolls are assessed to vehicles on the Expressway so that the PPP can recoup
its construction costs. Toll rates increased 700 per cent from the original rate of .33
pesos per km to 2.5 pesos per km (effectively from less than half a United States
cent to about $0.05). Despite this sharp increase in the toll rate, the Expressway
did not see a drop in daily users.
The new North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) is a modern toll expressway commissioned by the Government to replace the rundown North Luzon diversion road and to facilitate the development of the Subic and Clark Special Economic Zones. From the National Capital Region (NCR), the new NLEX serves as the main gateway to Central and North Luzon. The southern end is located at Balintawak Cloverleaf Interchange in Quezon City starting from the Junction of A. Bonifacio Road and EDSA. The NLEX runs northward through the agricultural areas of Bulacan and Pampanga towards the large cities of San Fernando and Angeles City. Close to the NLEX’s northern segment lies the former US Air Force Base of Clark Field.