Hopes for the economic benefits of Daang Kalikasan (Nature Road) are high as the 19.45-kilometer road that will pass mountains that link Mangatarem, Pangasinan and Sta. Cruz, Zambales is set to open middle of this year.
“Malaking tulong ito dahil magandang daan patungo sa Zambales. Maraming magiging byahero. (This is a big help in going to Zambales. There will be lots of travelers),” Felly Jasmin, a 70-year-old resident of Mangatarem town told the Philippine News Agency.
The four-lane road project that will improve a former logging road used by illegal loggers is eyed as an eco-tourism path because of its scenic view.
It is also targeted as a possible area for another economic zone where eco-tourism industries can locate.
Also part of the project, initiated by former Pangasinan 2nd District Representative and now Lingayen Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil, is the construction of a bridge that will connect the towns of Mangatarem and Aguilar.
It was partially opened in 2019 but was closed to motorists in February 2020 due to road accidents, fire incidents, and trash problems.
Jasmin, who currently manages a store owned by the landlord of the farm she tilled when she was younger, said business remains okay despite the temporary closure of the road.
“Maraming nagja-jogging dito lalo na pag weekend. Marami rin ang nagpi-picnic pag hapon para panoorin ang sunset (There are lots of joggers here especially on weekends. Some set up picnics to watch the sunset),” she said.
The road is also famous to bikers, who now enjoy the place more because of the lesser number of motorized vehicles that ply the road.
Jasmin said since the road is not yet used for its main purpose, farmers temporarily use the road to dry their rice harvests despite being prohibited.
Aside from easing travel from Pangasinan to Zambales and vice versa, she said the road is a “big help” to farmers whose lands are located far from the main highway.
“Mas madali na ang pag-byahe ng mga palay ngayon hindi tulad noon na sa pilapil lang ang daanan (It is easier to transport rice now after harvest unlike before when the only way is through the rice paddies),” she added. (PNA)