Flyover must be rebuilt for noise barrier, says engineer

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am

A noise barrier could only be fitted on a section of the Ferry Street flyover if it was torn down and rebuilt, a government engineer said yesterday.

Residents have been demanding a barrier to shield them from the noise and pollution that will be generated by the Central Kowloon Route.

Chow Chun-wah, the Highways Department's chief engineer on major works, said the flyover was not designed to sustain extra structures.

'There are limitations with the flyover's design. Even if noise barriers can be set upon it they will only be short ones, and it will not be able to solve [the noise] problems for residents in high-rises. If we really have to do it, we may need to tear down the flyover for reconstruction,' he said.

Mr Chow was addressing the concerns of residents in Prosperous Garden - a housing estate in Yau Ma Tei that is separated from the route's construction site only by the flyover.

The HK$10 billion project is aimed at cutting the journey time between Yau Ma Tei and Kai Tak. The 4.7km route, which includes a 3.9km tunnel, is intended to link the West Kowloon Reclamation area and the future Kai Tak development. It is expected to ease heavy traffic in Mong Kok and To Kwa Wan when it is completed in 2016.

Three buildings, including the Yau Ma Tei clinic, Kowloon government offices and a multi-storey car park, will have to be demolished to make way for the route. The old wing of Yau Ma Tei police station - a grade three historic monument - will be preserved but the fate of its less valuable new wing and attached structures has not yet been determined.

In a meeting of the Legislative Council's transport panel yesterday, the department's project manager, Chow Ying-shun, said it had pushed the tunnel's proposed portal much farther west from residential clusters. It will also hide the tunnel's ventilation building inside a slope and retrofit a noise barrier on sections of Gascoigne Road in Jordan.

But Miriam Lau Kin-yee, of the Liberal Party, said the department should not give up on the problem of the Ferry Street flyover.

'You used to say that it was technically impossible to retrofit noise barriers on the Kwun Tong Bypass as well, but eventually you did it.'

Democratic Party legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said if it was really impossible to install noise barriers, the government should consider other options, such as fitting noise-proof windows in the homes of affected residents.

The department said it would continue to study options and the project would undergo an environmental impact assessment.

Meanwhile, the Transport and Housing Bureau said it was not yet convinced that it should be made mandatory for all children to wear seat belts on school buses.

The bureau's principal assistant secretary, Rosanna Law Suk-pui, said in the same panel meeting that a study into overseas examples had failed to find a city with such laws.