The roads and highways sector plays a critical role in the growth of the economy. Government, transport departments and private organisations across the ASEAN region are undertaking various roads and highways projects that are at different stages of development – completed, announced/upcoming, under construction/ongoing. Southeast Asia Infrastructure tracks the key expressway projects across the region…

Key completed projects

In a major development, multiple road infrastructure projects worth more than PhP 100 million have been opened to traffic in Cebu, Philippines. These include the 4 km Bateria-Libertad road worth PhP 48.1 million, the Libertad-Dalingding road worth PhP 57.9 million, the causeway in Barangay Tapilon worth PhP 7.6 million and the causeway in Barangay Poblacion worth PhP 5.9 million. The opening of the new roads is expected to promote tourism in the economy of the Cebu region. In another development, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation and its subsidiary, Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), recently completed the construction of the main bridge deck of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) in the Philippines. The completion of final construction activities will link the deck of Tower 2 with Tower 1, connecting the town of Cordova on Mactan Island to Cebu City on the mainland. The 8.5 km CCLEX was officially opened in April 2022.

Designing a cable-stayed bridge in an area heavily affected by typhoons presents several challenges, including the ability to withstand winds of up to 250 km per hour. Its superstructure was tested in a wind tunnel to study the structural response of the deck during strong winds, which is a constant concern in tropical regions, and the girder box was shaped accordingly. A newly constructed toll road providing access to the West Java International Airport (BIJB) in Majalengka province of Indonesia became operational in December 2021. The toll road will help connect BIJB airport with the Cipali toll road and provide a boost to the local economy. Construction on the toll road project started in December 2020.

In Cambodia, a 64 km stretch of National Road 21 connecting the Takhmao roundabout in Kandal province’s Takhmao town to the Cambodian-Vietnamese international border checkpoint between Chrey Thom and Vietnam’s Long Binh was opened to traffic in March 2022. This section will link the capital to National Road 2, the second and third city ring roads and National Roads 21A and 21B. Constructed by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the $61 million road project was financed by grants from the Government of South Korea as well as contributions from the Government of Cambodia. The project was built in two phases, the first of which was a 55 km road from the Takhmao roundabout in Takhmao town to Koh Thom district’s Prek Sdey commune. The second phase included work on an 8.6 km road from Prek Sdey to the Chrey Thom Bridge.

Key ongoing projects

PT Bintaro Serpong Damai, an indirect subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation, has commenced construction work on toll road in Indonesia entailing an investment of $53 million. The 3.2 km toll road will provide direct access to Makassar port in South Sulawesi.The road project will be implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Housing through PT Bintaro Serpong Damai and will be executed in three stages.Work on the toll road is expected to be completed in early 2023. The toll road project is one of the key national strategic projects of the Government of Indonesia.

In another development, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing has commenced the construction work on Phases 1 and 2 of the Makassar New Port (MNP) access toll road in Indonesia. The MNP toll road will cover an area of 2.74 hectares. Work will be undertaken in three stages and is expected to be completed by June 2023. The first stage will include work on the 1.2 km section of the road from section 1 toll road to the MNP toll road while the second stage will cover work on the 2 km stretch between Section IV of the Makassar toll road and the MNP toll road. The first and second stages will be constructed simultaneously, while the stretch of the MNP connecting to the local airport will be completed in the final stage. PT Wijaya Karya has been appointed as the contractor while PT Indo Koei, Nippon Koei, and PT Cipta Strada have been appointed as joint operation supervision consultants. The project will be developed at an investment of IDR 705 billion. The MNP road is one of the key projects under the National Strategic Projects.

Construction of the Phnom PenhSihanoukville Expressway in Cambodia is over 90 per cent complete. The expressway spans five provinces, starting at the third ring road in Phnom Penh City and ending in Sihanoukville province. It is 187.05 km long, with a two-way four-lane system, each lane being 3.75 metres wide. The running speed limit for the expressway will be 80 to 120 km per hour. The highway includes 7 intersections, 3 rest areas, 1 parking lot, 4 operation and maintenance centres, 40 major and medium-sized bridges, and 5 small bridges.

Key upcoming projects

The Government of Thailand has announced plans of undertaking a $2.33 billion highway project linking Saraburi and Nakhon Nayok to reduce congestion on the existing Phahon Yothin Road (Highway 1) in Bangkok. The proposed road project is currently awaiting approval from the Expressway Authority of Thailand. The contract to construct another expressway from Chalong Rat to Nakhon Ayeok-Sarabur is expected to be awarded in 2023, with construction work scheduled to commence in 2024. The highway will be constructed in four phases and is expected to be opened to traffic in 2026.

Construction on Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City-Moc Bai expressway is expected to start in 2023 and be completed in 2025. The project will cost about VND 13.6 trillion. The 53 km expressway will connect Ring Road No. 3 in Ho Chi Minh City’s outlying district of Hoc Mon to National Highway 22 in the southern province of Tay Ninh’s Moc Bai Border Gate Economic Zone. As of June 2022, the pre-feasibility study for the project had been completed.

A new bridge is being built across the Mekong river that will link Thailand and Laos. As part of the high-speed rail link between Thailand and China, the bridge will have both road and train connections. A study is being conducted to determine whether the project is feasible and to offer a draft design. The new bridge will be close to the current ThaiLaos Friendship Bridge. The design of the bridge will allow for dual rail tracks. In addition, there are plans for developing a tolling system for drivers who will use the road link.

The way ahead

Going forward, efficient programme monitoring and review mechanisms are required to ensure timely project completion. These projects are expected to boost economic activity and enhance connectivity across the region. The rapid pace of road and highway infrastructure development is not to be measured just by the quantum of investment or length but also in terms of its effects on the economy, society and environment.