The Tolo Highway from Tai Po to Sheung Shui will be widened from six lanes to eight to ease traffic congestion. Director of Highways Lo Yiu-ching announced the plan yesterday, saying work would start in 2004. Mr Lo said the department would submit an application to the Legislative Council for public funds to design the $40 million project. Work is to be completed by 2007 or 2008. 'The project is launched in the wake of remarkable growth in Northern District. The population of Tai Po, Sheung Shui and Fanling is expected to increase by 190,000 residents in the coming few years,' Mr Lo said. 'The widening project is badly needed to enhance the capacity of the highway.' Deputy Director of Highways Wong Chi-keung said work on Route 10 connecting North Lantau and Yuen Long would begin in 2003 and was also likely to be finished by 2007 or 2008. Mr Lo said the Highways Department had responded on September 15 to queries raised by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) about the Environmental Impact Assessment report on the north-south link between Tai Ho Wan and Mui Wo on Lantau Island. The EPD will reply before November 15, stating whether the project meets environmental requirements. Mr Lo hoped the project could by completed by 2004 as originally scheduled. The EPD blocked the proposal early this year on the grounds that it would destroy the Tai Ho Valley in North Lantau. The department said the road would result in the loss of substantial wildlife habitats, including woodlands and marshes. It would also pose a threat to species such as the Hong Kong newt, short-legged toad and Romer's tree frog in nearby Lung Mei Hang stream.