Transport and logistics

Motorists wishing to use new Central-Wan Chai Bypass should plan ahead and learn rules to avoid problems, Hong Kong government says

  • Long-awaited HK$36 billion bypass opens to traffic from 8am on January 20
  • Drivers should be careful and get to know more about new routes ahead of January 20 opening, officials warn
PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 10:16pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2019, 11:10pm

Hong Kong motorists wishing to use the new Central-Wan Chai Bypass should plan ahead and familiarise themselves with the dos and don’ts to avoid flouting traffic rules and causing hazards, the government has advised.

The government made the appeal on Monday as it announced the traffic arrangements for motorists who would like to use the long-awaited HK$36 billion (US$4.6 billion) bypass which will open to traffic from 8am on January 20.

The rules include no changing of lanes inside the tunnel, the prohibition of certain vehicles and drivers from using the bypass or its slip roads and the various speed limits.

Wilson Pang Wai-shing, acting deputy commissioner for transport, called on drivers to familiarise themselves with the re-routing of roads in various districts and changes to traffic rules resulting from the bypass.

“Drivers should be careful and get to know more about the new routes. They should plan their journeys ahead with sufficient time. Beware of speed limits and the rule of no lane changing inside the tunnel,” he said.

Cracks in tunnel ceiling ‘will not delay bypass opening’

He also confirmed that a pilot scheme for electronic road pricing would be rolled out in the first half of this year, saying the bypass might not ease congestion problems in Central district. “It will be a good opportunity to roll out the pilot scheme,” he said.

The 4.5km (2.8 mile) link, comprising a flyover and a 3.7km (2.3 mile) tunnel, is expected to ease chronic congestion between North Point and Central, especially on Gloucester Road, Harcourt Road and Connaught Road Central.

The bypass is expected to cut the travelling time between Central and the Island Eastern Corridor from about half an hour to five minutes, and divert traffic from other parts of the city.

Extra traffic police will be deployed to help monitor nearby areas as well as to crack down on illegal parking at some black spots, including towing away illegally parked vehicles without warning.

More than 100 CCTV cameras have been installed to monitor traffic in the area along with eight speed cameras in the bypass.

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“Police have prepared contingency plans to ensure a swift response to incidents,” said Lee Man-yiu, superintendent of traffic for Hong Kong Island.

“To ensure smooth traffic flow, police will take stringent action against illegal parking in the vicinity of the bypass such as the Central piers, Wan Chai North and Tin Hau. If necessary, illegally parked vehicles will be towed away without warning.”

The opening will commence in two phases – with the eastbound carriageway to the tunnel section in service first.

That will be followed by the westbound carriageway, which is still under construction, connecting the tunnel to the Rumsey Street flyover. With its launch, traffic lanes in the same direction along the flyover leading to Connaught Road Central will be closed.

Pang said drivers heading to Western district were recommended to use the original route – Gloucester Road, Harcourt Road, Connaught Road Central and Rumsey Street flyover.

After the full commissioning in about one month, drivers will be able to travel via the Central exit and Rumsey Street flyover.

The speed limit of the bypass’ main road is 80km/h and for slip roads 50km/h. Vehicles including red minibuses, those exceeding 4.6 metres in height or carrying dangerous goods cannot use the bypass. Learner drivers are also prohibited.

Six bus routes – 720X, 88X, 962C, 969C, 33X and 18X – will use the bypass.