THE Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway in Penang is finally set to have three lanes on both sides of its entire stretch.
A bottleneck near the Batu Uban marine police base which reduces the three lanes (on each side) to two is undergoing a road-widening project that began this month.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the RM3.7mil project was undertaken as a corporate social responsibility initiative by IJM Corporation Berhad.
“This expansion and upgrade essentially resolves a 10-year-old problem of a 2km traffic jam caused by the road narrowing from three to two lanes.
“By widening a 400m stretch on each bound, the state hopes to reduce this traffic congestion problem that has haunted motorists, especially the industrialists and workers at (the Free Industrial Zone in) Bayan Lepas,” he said.
He was speaking during a symbolic ground breaking of the project yesterday.
Lim added that the project was announced in August last year, but plans at that time included only the widening of one side of the road which was not satisfactory to the state.
“We felt both sides should have three lanes each and went back to the drawing board.”
IJM Land general manager (northern region) Toh Chin Leong said the upgraded project would also include the rebuilding of an overhead pedestrian bridge along the 400m stretch and the building of a U-turn at Persimpangan Bertingkat Gelugor.
“The existing pedestrian bridge will be demolished and a new one with a higher clearance of 5.4m will be built.”
On the new U-turn, he said a new acceleration/deceleration lane would be built to ensure road users could make the turn safely.
“With this U-turn, motorists from George Town who are heading in the direction of Bayan Lepas will no longer need to drive all the way to the Bayan Mutiara Interchange or use the narrow Jalan Hajjah Rehmah in Jelutong.
“This will save motorists about 3.5km each way if they are headed to places like Tesco, E-Gate and Green Lane,” he said.
Toh said preparation works had already begun on the project and construction would kick into high gear after the Chinese New Year, adding that the whole project was targeted for completion by Sept 1.
Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies’ Association (Frepenca) president Horst Rosenmueller, who was also present, lauded the project, saying that it would benefit thousands of people working in Bayan Lepas.
“There are many workers travelling daily from the island to the mainland and back so it’s very important to open up this bottleneck.
“I am happy because it (the traffic congestion) was a pain for our employees in the FIZ who are stuck in jams every morning and evening,” he said.
Source: The Star