Guan Eng not seeking blanket approval for third bridge

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GEORGE TOWN: Only “approval in principle” is sought from the Federal Government for the proposed third bridge between Penang island and the mainland, so that preliminary technical preparations can begin, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.

“We are not asking for blanket approval. If we get approval in principle we shall then have to comply with technical requirements and Department of Environment conditions,” he said.

He charged that if the federal government does not give such approval in principle for the bridge, the state would go ahead with plans to complete an undersea tunnel along the same route, as it had planned initially, by 2027.

The state government has previously said a tunnel does not need federal approval as it is infrastructure beneath the ground.

Last week Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said the ministry had sought documents in support of the application. Lim said yesterday that necessary reports would be ready only early next year.

Speaking to reporters today, Lim said the tunnel would be more costly and complicated to plan. “We have to start planning now,” he said, pointing out that the Second Penang Bridge, Jambatan Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah, took twenty years to be completed in 2014.

A third road link across the channel was necessary for the future, he said. “Our children will thank us for building this link.”

He also noted that this would be the first undersea tunnel project in Malaysia.

He also said he was willing to hold a dialogue with Penang Forum, the alliance of civil society advocates, which had raised concerns about the multi-billion ringgit Penang Transport Master Plan.