Legco rejects funding for Route 10

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 March, 2002, 12:00am

Funding for design of the $22 billion Route 10 superhighway was rejected by legislators yesterday, but transport officials insisted the controversial project was not dead and buried.

The Finance Committee - comprising all members of the Legislative Council except its president - overturned a decision last month by its public works subcommittee, which approved $133.7 million for design work.

The funding application was blocked by a 32-19 vote, only gaining the support of the Democrats and several independent and non-affiliated members.

Route 10, a 12.8km six-lane highway running from North Lantau to the New Territories, was intended to be completed in 2008 and be used by up to 140,000 vehicles a day.

Although legislators gave the go-ahead for the southern section in 1999, they said yesterday there was no urgent need to build the northern section.

Route 10 was intended to link a politically sensitive cross-border bridge with Yuen Long and northern Lantau via the so-called Deep Bay link.

While opponents of the road praised the legislators' stance, transport officials said the project was 'still on the drawing board' and might be resubmitted for approval.

This could happen if the Government considers it a priority. However, the project would have to go through the entire approval process again.

Paul Tang Kwok-wai, the Deputy Secretary for Transport, told legislators the Government believed Route 10 was needed in the long run because the existing Route 3 and Tuen Mun Road could be at capacity by 2011.

But Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said: 'The project has been planned for a very long time but today it is still in a mess. There is not even one detailed plan of the [superhighway] system.'

Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong - which opposed the project - said: 'We should first consider using the existing resources [Route 3] before committing so much money to build a new road.'

The Route 3 (CPS) Company has opposed construction of Route 10, which would run almost parallel to the Route 3 tollway. Route 3 has been under-used since opening in 1998 and has made losses of $800 million.

But Democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said: 'If we have endorsed the south section, how can we not endorse the north section? Do we want to leave a gap in the highway network of the New Territories?'

At yesterday's meeting, the Finance Committee approved $153.8 million funding for the design and surveying of the cross-border bridge, Deep Bay Link and a link road to connect with Route 3.