The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) and the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) on Wednesday said traffic at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) has been restored to the same level as before the start of the construction of the Skyway Extension Project.

In an interview, TRB spokesperson Julius Corpuz said the usual amount of vehicular congestion prior to the start of improvement works on Sept. 24 should now be experienced by motorists plying SLEX and Skyway.

“Meron po tayong traffic na nararanasan–undeniable po ‘yan. The usual traffic level na nai-experience ng ating motorista bago magkaroon ng konstruksyon at masimulan ang project na ‘to (We are experiencing traffic—that’s undeniable. The usual traffic level experienced by motorists before the start of this project) is almost the same now,” Corpuz said.

In a separate radio interview, SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said the 19-kilometer gridlock on September 25 has not been repeated since and has been restored to the usual 10 kilometers.

He said the severe traffic during the start of Skyway Extension works was the result of curious motorists who took videos or pictures of the ongoing construction which they have since addressed by covering the construction areas.

“Yung mga motorista, humihinto at tinitignan yung heavy equipment na malaki at vinivideohan nila at pinipicturan. The following day, immediately, pinasara ko ng yero (Motorists were stopping and looking at the large heavy equipment—they were taking videos and pictures. The following day, immediately, I had it closed with sheet metal),” Ang said.

The SMC official added he was to blame for the occurrence of heavy traffic at SLEX when he initiated the Skyway Extension Project which will extend the existing elevated expressway from Sucat to Susanna Heights in Muntinlupa and address traffic build-up in some Skyway ramps.

“Ako ang may kasalanan nito, ako ang nag-initiate nitong (This is my fault, I initiated this) very bold move to extend Sucat to Susana Heights,” Ang said.

Corpuz said before construction of the project began, traffic at SLEX has already existed for some time and in the past reached all the way to San Pedro, Laguna.

He added that the immediate construction of the Skyway Extension Project was the solution to the long-standing congestion problem.

“Ang pinaka-solusyon ay gawin na itong Skyway Extension Project ng sa ganun hindi na po lumala yung traffic na nararanansan natin (The ultimate solution is to construct the Skyway Extension Project so traffic congestion we’re experiencing now will not worsen),” Corpuz said.

Since the evening of Sept. 24, one lane of the north-bound portion of SLEX at the Skyway at-grade area was closed to traffic to make way for the construction of the Skyway Extension Project.

For the next few days, heavy traffic was experienced by motorists plying the expressway which led to some lawmakers calling for the temporary reduction or suspension of toll fees at SLEX. (PNA)