The Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) Tollway connects the province of Laguna with Batangas, stretching from the SLEX extension in Calamba, Laguna to the spur road along Sto. Tomas and on to Batangas City. It has been the subject of criticism for being unsafe and this is for many reasons. Such include the fact that a significant part of the tollway is 2-lane and undivided like most national highways around the country. Fortunately, however, there seem to be few road crashes being reported along the tollway. This is probably due to the relatively low traffic volumes observed along the STAR combined with motorists being aware of the potential for crashes. Such awareness increases their alertness to situations that can lead to accidents. Following are photos I took almost a year ago during one trip to Batangas City.
Junction leading to the entrance of the tollway
Two-lane, two-way section of the tollway – the section is along half of the ROW and would have been the SB section of a divided road. The undeveloped land on the right will be the section where the NB section will be constructed. That’s a typical pedestrian overpass in the photo.
The full ROW for the tollway was acquired prior to its construction but due to the low traffic demand, the owner-operator decided against building the full, divided highway. Nevertheless, the highway generally has standard shoulders on either side and standard lane markings.
San Miguel Corporation, a company traditionally associated with beverage (San Miguel Beer) has acquired the STAR in its expansion to infrastructure projects. It is said to be planning for the construction of a full 4-lane divided tollway that will finally see the construction of the northbound lanes for a significant portion of the highway. There are, however, more improvements necessary in order to improve the safety of the tollway. These, of course, includes the installation of standard road signs and pavement markings. In is quite noticeable, too, from the photos above that there are few if any lamps along the tollway. This situation causes the tollway to be quite dark at nighttime and this lack of illumination may lead to road crashes especially along the undivided sections in Batangas. It is expected that traffic along the STAR will continue to grow in the coming years due in part to the increase in the volume of inter-regional trips including those taking the nautical highway system. Batangas Port already serves a lot of vehicles that cross the water between Luzon and Mindoro and this will continue to rise in number as towns along the corridor prosper and lead to increased vehicular traffic.