Penang reveals elaborate road plans under busy George Town

The Penang government has announced construction of roads under busy George Town. (Bernama pic)

GEORGE TOWN: The company behind the controversial undersea tunnel project in Penang said it would build two tunnels and two elevated roads below and above two old streets here, as part of a bypass road project approved by environment regulators.

The bypass starts from a road near Gurney Drive to a coastal expressway on the island, and is expected to begin in the next seven years.

Consortium Zenith Construction (CZC) said the 4.1km Jalan Pangkor to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu (LCE) Expressway bypass had to be built using tunnels, as flyovers could not be built on the existing narrow roads.

According to CZC, it would first bore two tunnels on top of each other below Jalan Pangkor, each having two lanes and going separate directions.

 

After Jalan Pangkor, the tunnel would pass Jalan Perak and emerge at Jalan Sungai Pinang. From here, it would continue to a “stacked” flyover, where two elevated roads will be placed on top of each other along the median of the road.

The road would then end at LCE at the Sungai Pinang interchange on each side.

CZC executive director Lee Chee Hoe said the tunnels will be bored for at least 50% of the route using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), similar to the one used in the Klang Valley MRT lines.

The bypass is part of the Penang undersea tunnel and three main roads project worth a total of RM6.3 billion.

The “three main roads” (formerly three paired roads) stretch from Air Itam to the LCE (5.7km), Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (also known as NCPR) (10.53km), and Jalan Pangkor-Gurney Drive junction to LCE (4.1km).

State Public Works committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the entire roads project would take about seven years to complete, with works on the Air Itam to LCE to begin March next year.

Road through hills

The second project to kick off would be the North Coast Paired Road (NCPR), a 10.53km road connecting Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah, going through virgin hills of both townships.

And the last in the priority would be the double deck tunnel and an elevated road from Pangkor Road to LCE.

Zairil said each road would take about 2-3 years to complete.

He also said a long list of conditions was put out by the Department of Environment (DoE) in their approval of the entire project.

The double decker tunnel and flyover combo route from Jalan Pangkor to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

While not going into specifics, Zairil said the 59 conditions include compliance, environmental management plans (EMPs), surface runoff mitigation and air quality monitoring.

“If the contractors violate any of 59 conditions set by the DoE, we will order works to be stopped,” Zairil said.

Environment consultant Lee Aik Heng said specially designed drains would be built to address concerns over erosion at hill areas due to heavy rainfall.

State exco Zairil Khir Johari (second from left) being briefed by environmental impact consultant Lee Aik Heng (second from right). With them are Penang Transport Master Plan special purpose vehicle chief Lim Hock Seng (left) and CZC executive director Lee Chee Hoe.

Saying the road projects would cross 21 rivers, 35 sensitive residential areas and 54 areas with noise impact, Zairil said the project managers would use “guided self-regulations” as recommended by the DOE.

“A guided self-regulation is where contractors are required to submit all the calculation and technical matters to the technical agency so that problems would be very minimal.

“We are certain that every impact would not be felt by residents that much. A third party will audit us to monitor the projects so that there will be no nuisance.”