Neha Patil (Editor)

North Luzon Expressway

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84 km

North Luzon Expressway

R-8 R-8 E1(AH26) in Metro Manila and Bulacan

North end:
Mabalacat-Magalang Road (in Barangay Sta. Ines, Mabalacat, Pampanga)Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway (in Mabalacat)

South end:
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (in Barangay Balingasa and Unang Sigaw in Quezon City)A. Bonifacio Avenue (in Balintawak, Quezon City)

Marilao, Bulacan, Bocaue, Balagtas, Bulacan, Guiguinto

Major cities
Quezon City, San Fernando City, Caloocan, Angeles, Valenzuela, Malolos, Mabalacat, Meycauayan

The North Luzon Expressway (NLE or NLEx), formerly known as the North Diversion Road and Manila North Expressway (MNEX), is a 2 to 8-lane limited-access toll expressway that connects Metro Manila to the provinces of the Central Luzon region in the Philippines. It is a component of Expressway 1 (E1) of the Philippine highway network, and Radial Road 8 (R-8) of Metro Manila's arterial road network. It was built in the 1960s.


Map of E1, Philippines

The expressway begins in Quezon City at the Balintawak Interchange with EDSA as a continuation of Bonifacio Avenue. It then passes through Quezon City, Caloocan, and Valenzuela in Metro Manila, and the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon. It currently ends at Mabalacat and merges with the MacArthur Highway, which continues northward into the rest of Central and Northern Luzon. There is a proposed direct interchange between the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, and this will be located 3 km. north of its current terminus at Sta. Ines Exit. The segment between Santa Rita Exit in Guiguinto and the Balintawak Interchange in Quezon City is a part of the new alignment of the N1 (AH26).

The expressway, including Andres Bonifacio Avenue, has total length of 88 kilometers. The expressway segment has a length of 84 kilometres.

Originally controlled by the Philippine National Construction Corporation or PNCC, operation and maintenance of the NLEx was transferred in 2005 to the Manila North Tollways Corporation, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (formerly, it was the subsidiary of the Lopez Group of Companies until 2008). A major upgrade and rehabilitation has been completed in February 2005 and the road has now similar qualities as a modern French tollway. The main contractor of the rehabilitation work was Leighton Contractors Pty. Ltd (Australia) with Egis Projects, a company belonging to the French Groupe Egis as the main subcontractor for the toll, telecommunication and traffic management systems. To help maintain the safety and quality of the expressway, various rules are in effect, such as restricting the left lane to passing vehicles only and banning overloaded trucks.


The original stretch of the expressway, from Balintawak Interchange up to Guiguinto Exit in Bulacan, was completed on August 4, 1968. It is a fully fenced limited-access highway that consists of a four-lane rural divided roadway, nine twin bridges, one railroad overpass, seven underpasses and three interchanges.

Originally a project of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the completion of the major portion of the job fell on CDCP to pioneer the toll concept of funding infrastructure. It was carried out under the private financing scheme provided by Republic Act 3741.

Additional work required by the government included the construction of the Balintawak - Novaliches Interchange Complex, the Tabang Interchange, and the approach road of the underpasses.

In 1976, the NLT extension, consisting of 50.9 km of concrete road, was built as part of a highways program of the International Bank for Reconstruction Development linking major urban centers to the production centers in the north. The project features a 4-lane limited-access highway with a five-kilometer Candaba Viaduct, a construction innovation utilizing precast beam system, 6 interchanges, 12 bridges, and overpass/underpass structures.

In 1989, under Corazon Aquino administration, the expressway was extended by another 5 km from its terminus at Dau Exit up to Sta. Ines Exit in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Starting 2003, it took under rehabilitation on the expressway. These include the widening of the Balintawak - Valenzuela Exit from 6 to 8 lanes, Valenzuela - Sta. Rita segment from 4 to 6 lanes and the Sta. Rita - Sta. Ines retain the same number of lanes. Other projects include asphalt overlay, and demolition of old tollbooths (to see more of its projects, see North Luzon Expressway#Technical Information). It continued until February 2005 and operations and maintenance was transferred from the state-owned Philippine National Construction Corporation (PNCC) to Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC).

Route description

North Luzon Expressway begins in Quezon City at the Balintawak Interchange with EDSA as a physical continuation of Bonifacio Avenue. It then passes through Quezon City, Caloocan, and Valenzuela in Metro Manila, Meycauayan, Marilao, Bocaue, Balagtas, Guiguinto, Malolos, Plaridel, Pulilan, and Calumpit in Bulacan, Apalit, San Simon, Santo Tomas, San Fernando, Mexico, Angeles, and Mabalacat in Pampanga. The Candaba Viaduct carries NLEX above the Pampanga River. The expressway currently ends at Mabalacat and merges with the MacArthur Highway, which continues northward into the rest of Central and Northern Luzon.

There is a proposed direct interchange between the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. The interchange is located 3 km. north of Sta. Ines Exit. Currently, the Spur/NLE exit served as the connection between the expressway and the Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway via Clark Spur Road.

Tabang Spur Road

Tabang Spur Road is a spur road which branches out of the main alignment of NLEX at Balagtas and proceeds to MacArthur Highway at Guiguinto Exit. The entire spur is located in Guiguinto. The Tabang Toll Plaza is situated near the end of this spur road.

Segment 8.1

The NLEx Segment 8.1 or the NLEX Mindanao Avenue Link is a four lane, 2.34 kilometer expressway that runs from Mindanao Avenue to the SMART Connect Interchange in Valenzuela City. This is an alternate route to NLEx from Manila. This segment opened to traffic on June 5, 2010. This segment is a part of C-5 Road North Extension.

Segment 8.2

The NLEx Segment 8.2 will connect NLEx segment 8.1 to the Congressional Avenue and Luzon Avenue. MNTC is ready to undertake its next road project called NLEX C-5 Link that will connect the north to the south via C-5, Rodrigo E. Franco, MNTC president announced Franco said the new project is an important section of the Manila North Expressway concession of MNTC. The 10.23-km NLEX C-5 Link will connect the NLEX main to C-5 through Mindanao Ave. Estimated cost is at ₱6.1 billion, inclusive of operating equipment and other facilities with commercial operations expected to begin by mid-2021.

Ramon S. Fernandez, MPTC president, said the project “represents MPTC’s continuing commitment in investing in projects that will promote economic development in both the urban areas and in the countryside.”

Earlier, MNTC completed a 2.7 km expressway that links the NLEX main to Mindanao Avenue with the country’s largest cloverleaf interchange called Smart Connect Interchange as its main feature.

When completed, NLEX C-5 Link will dramatically decongest traffic along Commonwealth Avenue and Quezon Avenue – the normal route of southbound motorists from northwest of Metro Manila. This will significantly cut down travel time and generate savings on fuel and vehicle wear and tear.

Segment 9

The NLEX Segment 9 or the NLEX Karuhatan Link is a four lane, 4.06 kilometer expressway that runs from the SMART Connect Interchange to MacArthur Highway. This segment opened to traffic on March 18, 2015 and a part of C-5 Road North Extension.

Segment 10.1

This Segment will connect NLEX Karuhatan Link and NLEX-SLEX Connector Road/Segment 10.2 to the Manila North Harbor. This segment will be open to traffic on January 2018.

NLEX-SLEX Connector Road (Segment 10.2)

There are plans for a construction of an elevated road to connect North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

The government has reportedly accepted an unsolicited proposal from Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. (MPTDC) to build the 13.24-kilometer road. MPTDC is a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), which runs NLEX. This segment will be open to traffic on September 2020.

Known as the Connector Road project, the elevated expressway will have run over the Philippine National Railways tracks until terminating to the Skyway Stage 3 Interchange.

It will be connected in the north to Segment 10, which will soon be constructed through the cities of Caloocan and Valenzuela. In the south, it will be linked to the skyway near PUP in Sta. Mesa. Once completed, the Connector Road will have four entry and exit points: C-3 Road in Caloocan, España, Quirino Avenue in Manila and terminating through the Skyway Stage 3 Interchange in Sta, Mesa Manila.

Construction of the project is estimated to cost ₱17 billion, but as an "all-elevated" structure, right-of-way acquisition shall be reduced to an estimated cost of only ₱2.41 billion. Construction is anticipated to start when NLEX Karuhatan Link and Segment 10 are complete.

NLEX Phase 3

Consists of three Segments with an approximate length of 58 km from San Simon, Pampanga to Dinalupihan, Bataan connecting to Segment 7 in Subic Freeport.

Technical specifications

  • Name: North Luzon Expressway
  • Concession holder: Manila North Tollways Corporation
  • Operator: Tollways Management Corporation
  • Length: 84 km
  • Concession starting date: February 10, 2005
  • Concession ending date: December 31, 2037
  • Highway exits: 15
  • Lanes: 8 lanes ( 4 lanes), 6 lanes (3 lanes), and 4 lanes (2 lanes).
  • Toll plazas: 4
  • Rest and Service Areas: 8
  • Minimum Height Clearance on Underpasses: 4.27 m (14')
  • Tolls

    The tollway has two sections: an open section and a closed section. The open section (within Metro Manila) charges a flat toll based on vehicle class and is employed to reduce the number of toll barriers (and associated bottlenecks) within the metropolis. The closed section is distance-based, charging based on the class of vehicle and distance traveled. When the expressway was modernized, an electronic toll collection system was set up for Class 1 vehicles while prepaid magnetic cards were assigned to Class 2 and 3 vehicles to speed up transactions at toll booths. These have since been replaced by a unified ETC system operated by Easytrip Services Corporation. As of October 1, 2011, all tolls (as shown below) include the 12% Value-Added Tax (VAT).


  • Street Lights (Balintawak-San Fernando)
  • Variable message signs
  • Rumble strips
  • Emergency telephones (every 2 km in the Balintawak-Burol segment, every 1 km in the Burol-Sta. Ines segment)
  • Runaway truck ramp
  • Rest and service areas (privately owned and operated)
  • Closed-circuit television
  • Guard rails
  • Impact attenuators
  • Solid wall fence
  • Lighting arrestors
  • Car density sensors underneath road surface
  • Hidden speed guns
  • Electronic toll payment (class 1), Prepaid account cards (class 2/3)
  • Much of the expressway has been built to U.S. Interstate highway standards, featuring eight lanes through Metro Manila. As it enters the more rural area north of Manila, the expressway narrows to 6 and then 4 lanes with a grass median to separate the two carriageways.
  • All signage is in English, and are nearly identical to the "big green signs" (BGS) on American expressway, including white lettering on a green background, with the exit tab in the upper-right corner (distance signs even employ a font similar—if not identical—to the Caltrans font; all other signs employ a different font).
  • Like expressways in most American states, the NLEx uses a distance-based sequencing for numbering interchanges. Being a metric country, though, the system is kilometer-log rather than mile-log—exits numbered according to the distance (in kilometers) from Rizal Park in Manila, which is designated as Kilometer Zero in Luzon.
  • Lanes

    The NLEX has 8 lanes, which has 4 lanes in both directions from the Balintawak to Burol segment, 6 lanes with 3 lanes for both directions on the Burol to Sta. Rita segment and 4 lanes with 2 lanes for both directions on the Tabang Spur, Sta. Rita to Dau segment. There is even a part of the NLEX which consists of only 2 lanes, one for each direction. This segment is located after passing through the SCTEx Exit (Northbound).

    Beginning February 2016, the Manila North Tollways Corporation will undertake road expansion in certain segments of the expressway. The segment from Santa Rita to San Fernando will be expanded from four to six lanes while the SCTEx-Santa Ines segment will be expanded from two to four lanes.

    Speed limit

    100 km/h for cars and jeepneys, 80 km/h for trucks and buses, and 60 km/h is the minimum for all classes of vehicles. Speed limits are strictly enforced via CCTV cameras and speed guns, and speeders are usually identified as soon as they hit the tollbooth.

    Major upgrade

    The upgrade consisted of rebuilding of roads and building new toll plazas. Launched in the beginning of 2003 and completed in February 2005, the roadway now has modern features explained above.

    Drainage Enhancement Program

    The entire stretch of the expressway underwent another rehabilitation regarding its drainage systems. The expressway is known to be flooded during the rainy season and the goal of the project is to fix the drainage systems within the road to prevent flooding. Within this period, certain lanes of the road were closed to the traffic. This in turn caused massive traffic jams along the road and the speed limit on the construction sites were reduced from 80/100 km/h to 60 km/h.

    The program started on 12 February 2007 and finished on 7 October 2007.

    Shareholder companies

  • Philippine National Construction Corporation
  • Metro Pacific Investments Corporation
  • Leighton Asia Limited
  • Egis Projects S.A of France
  • Pop Culture

  • The expressway was featured in the music video to the song "Toll Gate" by the band Hale.
  • It was also featured in the movie "Sa North Diversion Road" in 2005, based on Tony Perez's stage play of the same name. It was created by Dennis Marasigan.
  • From 6–17 June 2007, "On North Diversion Road", the play written by Tony Perez, was performed at The Arts House, Singapore, by young & W!LD, an actor training division of Singapore's W!LD RICE Theatre.
  • [1]


    Exit numbers are based on kilometer post. Exits begin at 9 because the NLEx is a logical continuation of Andres Bonifacio Avenue. Rizal Park is designated as Kilometer Zero.

    Future Exits

    All of these exits are still pending construction. The exits from Tarlac City to Rosario, La Union are still being planned, being part of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.


    North Luzon Expressway Wikipedia

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