Transport officials will abandon the escalator plan for historic Ladder Street in Central.
In a letter to the Central and Western District Council this week, the Transport and Housing Bureau said it had consulted the Antiquities and Monuments Office and completed a preliminary assessment.
'If an escalator is built, we need to remove the steps which form half the width of Ladder Street, and conduct underground works, which would affect conservation of the historic structure badly. Therefore, the Transport Department and the Highways Department will look for a route near Ladder Street as a revised route,' the bureau said.
The bureau has, after councillors' objections and media reports, dropped its original proposal, which involved building escalators at five sections of Ladder Street, which connects Caine Road, Bridges Street, Upper Lascar Row, Hollywood Road and Queen's Road Central. It suggested this as a mitigation measure to reduce traffic impact from possible relaxation of building restrictions after 2014, when the MTR's West Island Line opens.
In the original assessment, the bureau said escalators would help the elderly population, save travel time and benefit tourism. It did not mention the heritage impact.
Ladder Street was built in the 1840s with steps and landings made out of granite slabs and concrete paving. There are still some old sections of retaining walls and boundary walls visible, the antiquities office says.