LINGAYEN, Pangasinan: Travel time from Pangasinan's easternmost town of Umingan to the province's westernmost town of Infanta will soon be reduced by half once the proposed Pangasinan East-West Expressway (PEWEx) becomes a reality.

At present, driving through the 166-kilometer distance separating the two towns takes about four hours."The feasibility study [for the expressway] is now ongoing and hopefully, in 2023, the project will get an initial funding, which will be needed for the acquisition of the right of way," said Gov. Ramon "Mon-Mon" Guico 3rd.

Pangasinan Second District Rep. Mark Cojuangco said that the first leg of the PEWEx will be from the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) in Rosales town to the capital town, Lingayen.

TPLEx is the northern segment of the North Luzon expressway, which includes the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

Cojuangco said that the PEWEx first leg will traverse Bayambang town, San Carlos City and Binmaley, with a spur to Dagupan City.

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"I have asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. if the government can spend for the acquisition of the right of way, and he agreed," said Cojuangco.

Former Bayambang mayor Cezar Quiambao, now special assistant to the governor on investments and promotions, last month accompanied officials of the Indonesian firm PT Desain Manajemen Cipra Utama (DMCU) to the provincial capitol here to present their proposal to the governor.

"We came here to submit a proposal for the group to undertake a feasibility study for PEWEx, at no cost to the government of Pangasinan," said Quiambao.

He said the study will focus on whether it would be feasible to construct the PEWEx under the private-public partnership, or through a hybrid arrangement, where government participation is needed.

With PEWEx, travel to the provincial capitol, which is located at the center of the province here, will also be reduced by half.

There will also be a faster movement of goods from eastern and western Pangasinan towns to the major trading centers of the province and neighboring provinces.

The Eastern Pangasinan towns are vegetable producers, while most towns in the western part of the province produce milkfish.

Aside from decongesting traffic in the province's major cities, PEWEx will also provide a more efficient and safer travel to the different tourist destinations of the province.

Cojuangco said PEWEx's second phase will be from TPLEx to the province's eastern Pangasinan towns, and the third phase will be from Lingayen to Bolinao.