RM4bn for 8.8km of tunnels and highways? That’s what the Penang state government has in mind with two short stretches of tunnels and elevated highways.
That works out to RM500m per kilometre. (The reason for the high cost is due to tunnels, elevated highways and compensation for land acquisition). Shouldn’t we be focusing on improving the public transport infrastructure instead of building more roads that would entrench reliance on private motor vehicles?
The two stretches:
- a 4.2km George Town elevated Inner Ring Road from Jalan Pangkor near Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway, and
- a 4.6km tunnel and carriageway from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam to the Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
Is the controversial Penang Outer Ring Road being resurrected bit by bit?
Okay, I think both the state government and I can agree that Penang needs to do something urgently to overcome congestion. Where we differ is the means of going about it.
The state government feels that RapidPenang is largely beyond its control and it has to do something quickly in the meantime to alleviate congestion. Whereas I feel that we should put in place measures to immediately encourage people to turn to alternative modes of more sustainable transport.
So far there is no indication on whether these new highways are going to be tolled. The state government will apparently look at proposals before deciding. But if we are talking about a RM4bn price tag, then toll charges cannot be ruled out.
The moment the second Penang Bridge was approved, a dramatically higher traffic volume for the island in the near future was virtually guaranteed. The opening of a southern entrance to the island would allow greater inflows of private vehicles from expanding areas like Batu Kawan.
And now with the massive land reclamation going on in Tanjung Tokong, we are finding out that we need to find a solution to the traffic nightmare.
Where will it all end? Will we be only satisfied when the whole island is plastered with a crazy network of roads, highways and then multi-storey highways? and then what? Maybe our planners are not bothered about that because they would be happily retired by then, leaving the nightmare for future generations to sort out.
This report from The Star:
More roads not the way
By ANDREA FILMER
NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations have raised concerns on the two new roads proposed by the Penang Government.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader has even called for a halt to the projects, estimated to cost some RM4bil, pending public consultation.
“We are rather surprised at the announcement as this is the first time we are hearing about these two roads.
“As far as we know, civil society has not been consulted at all,” he said at the association office.
Mohideen said more roads was not a solution to traffic congestion and the state should concentrate more of their efforts on improving public transport.
“We are spending more money on new roads as compared to spending them on public transport.
“However, studies have shown that building more roads only encourages people to buy more cars and this will in turn lead to an increase in the traffic volume.
“We call on the state to put a hold on the new roads until public consultation can be done,” he said.
Mohideen acknowledged that with the emergence of Rapid Penang in the state, the bus system had shown an improvement but he said more should be done in the creation of dedicated bus lanes and the introduction of feeder buses from neighbourhoods to main roads.
Citizens for Public Transport (Cepat) co-ordinator Dr Choong Sim Poey said often, projects were focused only on the dispersal of private car traffic.
“We realise that critical traffic bottleneck points needed to be relieved with new links, however, it is important that these new linkages be planned with public transport routing in mind.
“Sufficient space should also be allocated for bus lanes, cyclists and pedestrians, and this should be done in the planning stage and not as an afterthought,” he said.
It was reported yesterday that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had opened a Request For Proposal (RFP) on two new roads — a 4.2km inner ring road connecting Gurney Drive to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway (formerly Jelutong Expressway) and a 4.6km-long tunnel road linking Paya Terubong and Bandar Baru Air Itam to the same expressway.
Lim had said the new roads would reduce traffic congestion on Penang island by up to 40%.
Report from theSun:
New plan to build inner ring road in Penang
By Himanshu Bhatt
Lim shows the two planned arteries (dotted red lines).
GEORGE TOWN (April 24, 2011): The fate of the controversial Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project has been called into question following the state’s announcement of a new plan to build an “inner ring road” and another major traffic bypass on the island at an estimated total cost of over RM4 billion.
The two new thoroughfares, comprising the 4.2km George Town Inner Ring Road starting from Jalan Pangkor near Gurney Drive and a 4.6km carriageway from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam, would run directly onto the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on the eastern coast of the island.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today said the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) would undertake a Request for Proposals (RFPs) exercise for each project, in which major road concessionaires would be expected to take part.
“It may not happen because of the costs … but we prefer to fail trying than fail to try,” Lim told a press conference at his office here.
He declined to give a time frame for the projects but said they may be carried out simultaneously.
Lim stressed that the state had little option but to plan for the two roads in view of traffic and development pressures, in particular the opening of the Second Penang Bridge by the end of 2013 which was expected to significantly increase traffic flow into the island. He also pointed to a recent article by Time magazine which identified Penang as having significant investment potential.
It is estimated that the new Bandar Baru Ayer Itam artery alone would alleviate the traffic burden from surrounding roads in the area by about 30% to 40%.
Lim declined to comment when asked about the impact of the plans on the PORR, a federal project.
It has been reported that the PORR would entail construction of an 18-km toll highway cutting across the island from Tanjong Tokong to the Penang Bridge. The project has been opposed by numerous quarters as it is likely to involve reclamation of the popular Gurney Drive coastline and another shoreline in Middle Bank, a site close to the Weld Quay jetties near Jelutong.
Lim also provided an assurance that the two new projects would entail minimal land acquisition, saying the inner ring road from Jalan Pangkor is likely to feature a combination of a tunnel system and an elevated carriageway. He said the plan for the two roads will be coordinated with the state’s Public Transport Masterplan currently under preparation.
Lim said the state would propose to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala that plans for the two roads be included in the Greater Penang Transformation Master Plan.
He also said the state could not do anything to improve several other major roads that were under federal control, including Jalan Tun Dr Awang and Jalan Paya Terubong.
The state government had previously initiated several major traffic projects in Seberang Perai, with two new roads from Jalan Siram to Jalan Bagan 21 and from Jalan Bunga Tanjung to Jalan Rumah Hijau, as well as road expansions of Jalan Raja Uda and Jalan Song Ban Keng, a major artery in Bukit Mertajam. — theSun