AMBITIOUS PLAN TO EASE TRAFFIC WOES
Penang govt’s highway project includes a 10.5km-long tunnel
THE Penang government yesterday announced an ambitious project to alleviate traffic congestion on the island, which will be undertaken through a 10.5kmlong tunnel that will cut through hills as part of the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1).
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the project would be challenging because apart from the 10.5km tunnel, it would also cut through several hillslopes.
Among the hillslopes involved are Bukit Bendera, Paya Terubong and Sungai Ara.
“When we build the tunnel, we believe the environmental impact will be similar to building a highway through the hills,” he said.
Chow hopes the public would review the report prepared by the consultant appointed by the state government.
The report can be viewed by the public at 10 locations, including the National Library, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry in Putrajaya and Penang Island City Council.
It can also be viewed at the Department of Environment (DoE) and the state government’s websites.
“After receiving feedback from the public, the consultant and the state government will provide explanation on the issues raised to the DoE,” Chow said.
The 20km PIL 1 is part of three main roads, included in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
It is expected to reduce travelling time from Persiaran Gurney to Penang International Airport to only 15 minutes, compared with the current travel time of between 45 minutes and one hour.
Chow said this after visiting the Environmental Impact Assessment report for PIL 1, which has been set up for public display for 30 days from July 11 to Aug 30.
He said the state government might seek funding assistance from the Federal Government if the proposal to build three manmade islands in the southern part of the island, dubbed Penang South Reclamation, was not approved.
He said it would be the last resort by the state to ensure the PTMP materialised.
“If the manmade islands are not approved, we will be forced to request the Federal Government to finance PTMP.
“However, we have not thought about other funding models.”
The Penang government plans to reclaim three manmade islands to fund the ambitious PTMP and has appointed SRS Consortium as the project delivery partner.
The PTMP project, first announced in 2015, consists of a light rail transit, an undersea tunnel and three paired highways.
The project will be funded through the reclamation of three manmade islands with the size of 809ha, 526ha and 324ha respectively, for industrial, housing and commercial purposes.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (centre) showing the highway project plan during a press conference at Komtar in George Town on Thursday.