The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is preparing plans to “fast-track” the rollout of projects under its infrastructure pipeline that had stalled due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Secretary Mark Villar said on Friday.

Construction of big-ticket projects under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative was put on hold since the government last March 17 imposed an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to control the spread of COVID-19.

Villar said in a virtual briefing via state-run PTV that construction would continue after the lifting of the lockdown, targeted by April 30.

“While in quarantine we are preparing for the comeback of our infrastructure projects,” Villar said as he acknowledged that projects were now delayed by around one and a half months.

He said new guidelines would also outline safeguards to protect the health of construction workers as efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 continue.

Some P30 billion in funds reallocated from its “Build, Build, Build” program to aid in the government’s COVID-19 response have yet to be deployed, Villar said during the interview.

“We’re ready should the government need additional [COVID-19] funds,” Villar said. He added that the DPWH has yet to identify nonpriority projects that could be cut from the current infrastructure budget.

Big-ticket items slated for completion this year are comprised of public and private-sector projects.

These include the 18.3-kilometer Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 that will reduce travel time between the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway to about 20 minutes from more than two hours. The tollroad, backed by conglomerate San Miguel Corp., suffered a mishap last January after a section of the expressway collapsed as a result of heavy damage from a fire in Pandacan.

Other projects due for completion this year are the NLEx Harbor Link, the Mindanao Avenue Extension Segment 2C and the Laguna Lake Highway.

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