Bridge finally gets go-ahead in bid to beat traffic chaos
By STEVE BALL, NG KANG-CHUNG and KEITH WALLIS
WORK on a $1.1 billion bridge closely linked to the contract for the politically troubled Container Terminal 9 has to start soon otherwise there could be severe traffic congestion in the Tsing Yi area, Sir Hamish said.
The four-lane Tsing Yi south bridge has already been delayed by two years. It was originally planned to open at the same time as CT9, but the Government will now go ahead with the bridge project separately.
'While we still hope to resolve our difficulties over CT9, we risk a serious deterioration in traffic conditions if we delay the bridge any longer,' Sir Hamish said.
The existing south Tsing Yi bridge has only two lanes, so the second bridge will triple capacity when it is completed.
The bridge was to have been built by the CT9 consortium, with the Government paying the contractors on completion.
Now the tender will be open and the Government will secure financing in advance by approaching the Legislative Council's Finance Committee.
Work on the 700 metre-long bridge will start early next year. The first two lanes should be open to traffic within 29 months and the project should be finished within 40 months.
Tsing Yi residents were last night excited that the long-overdue bridge would finally be built.
But Kwai Tsing District Board member Simon Chan Siu-man said the project should not have been delayed by political issues.
'The bridge project cannot be further delayed. The traffic congestion problem could paralyse the island's development after the completion of several housing developments in the next few years,' said Mr Chan.
He said the traffic problem on the island was due to the Government's lack of detailed planning.
'The problem could get much worse after the opening of the new airport in 1997, so we believe it is time to start work on a new bridge,' he said.
At present, there are about 170,000 people on Tsing Yi but that number is set to increase.
An oil depot is due to be relocated to make way for residential development and hundreds of families are expected to move to Tsing Yi with the completion of a sandwich class housing project later this year.
Consulting engineers Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick (Hong Kong) welcomed the announcement.
'It is very good news. I am glad something specific is happening,' said director David Butler.
'All the designs were completed two or three years ago. It is a very important bridge because the existing connections are very congested.' The project also includes flyovers and underpasses to connect Tsing Yi to Route 3.
The CT9 project ran into trouble in September last year when the Chinese Government denounced Jardines' involvement in the consortium and demanded the project be put back out for tender.