AM­BI­TIOUS PLAN TO EASE TRAF­FIC WOES

Pe­nang govt’s high­way project in­cludes a 10.5km-long tun­nel

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION - SITI SOFIA MD NASIR cnews@nstp.com.my

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.

PIC BY SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

Pe­nang Chief Min­is­ter Chow Kon Yeow (cen­tre) show­ing the high­way project plan dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at Kom­tar in Ge­orge Town on Thurs­day.

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