Peak residents' traffic worries over hospital
Victoria Peak residents are petitioning the government to make sure the expansion of a private hospital near their homes does not cause traffic jams.
But the Transport Department says it does not expect any such problems arising from the work at Canossa Hospital, even though its only access for both entry and exit is from the steep, narrow two-way Old Peak Road.
'Traffic jams could delay the movement of emergency vehicles,' said Central and Western district councillor Joseph Chan, who is helping the petitioners. 'It is not just a matter of inconveniencing local residents.'
The hospital expansion, which is nearing completion, will create additional facilities for paediatric care, dental care, health check-ups and other outpatient services.
The Transport Department did not require Canossa Hospital to submit a traffic impact assessment when the expansion project was first approved in 2007, and the current plan includes no measures to alleviate possible traffic pressures.
A Transport Department representative said: 'Since the expansion will not increase the number of patient beds, we do not expect traffic to increase. Therefore, we did not require the hospital's project developers to complete a traffic impact assessment. That is our standard procedure.'
But some residents reject the reasoning behind the department's decision.
'It is not logical to think that when hospital operations expand, traffic would not increase,' said John Yang, 35. 'The government needs to address the traffic problem, which is already especially jammed near the hospital exit on Old Peak Road.'
Ten residents delivered a petition outlining their concerns about the hospital expansion to the Buildings Department on April 20.
It contained several suggestions to reduce traffic pressures after the Canossa Hospital expansion.
These included creating a second exit on Robinson Road, creating a roundabout outside the hospital, and increasing shuttle bus services between Central and the hospital to encourage visitors to take public transport.
The District Council discussed the petition during a general meeting on May 17, but has not provided a formal response to residents.
Chan and his constituents have previously raised concerns about other construction projects on Victoria Peak. 'I am very disappointed that the Transport Department is sticking with an internal policy created decades ago when hospitals provided very few outpatient services,' he said.
The department said that according to the hospital's submission to the Buildings Department, the likely impact on traffic was considered slight as the number of hospital beds would remain unchanged.
Also, there was no accident and emergency department and only limited traffic for transfers to other hospitals.
The hospital was not required to submit a traffic impact assessment report and no additional vehicle access was deemed necessary.