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The STAR Tollway

March 2012
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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

Weigh bridge for trucks entering the tollway

Section of national highway connecting to the tollway

Ramp to tollway is on the right. The national road passes under the tollway.

Typical entry toll barrier

Ramp merging into 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.

Example of non-standard sign along the expressway. Such non-standard signs are found along the entire tollway.

Overpass section of the tollway where there is a junction with a national road

Typical bridge for traffic crossing the tollway where there are no entrance or exits to/from the tollway

Vehicle attempting to overtake a RORO bus traveling from Batangas Port to Metro Manila

RORO bus initiating a passing maneuver with respect to a slower moving tanker truck. Note that the shoulder at this section is only half the width of a lane.

Approach to exit to Lipa City

Three-lane section along the tollway where the extra lane is for vehicles turning off the tollway

Section of STAR under rehabilitation along the 4-lane, divided part of the tollway

Gas station along the tollway provides an opportunity for rest, refueling and/or refreshments

Typical two-lane section (NB)

Long sag section along the tollway

Typical section and traffic along the tollway – even at sections where demand is supposed to be significant enough to justify 4 lanes, traffic is light and free-flowing.

Typical horizontal curvature along the tollway

The geometric design of the tollway provides adequate sight distance, harmonizing horizontal and vertical curves.

Non-standard signs along the expressway located along the median

Approach to the toll plaza prior to the spur road connecting STAR with SLEX

Exit toll plaza

Spur road section leading to the SLEX

Sto. Tomas exit ramp

View of Mt. Makiling from the exit ramp

Junction from Sto. Tomas town proper to the tollway spur road

Section leading to the SLEX Extension

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.


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