All abuzz over second bridge

With  the hum and buzz of Free Industrial Zone factories on one side and sights of the Penang Channel on the other, driving on the southern end of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on Penang Island has always been scenic.

But over the last year, more interesting things have been happening.

Near the very end of the expressway in Batu Maung, concrete piers have been emerging in the sea, marking the foundation work for the Second Penang Bridge.

The 292nd and last pier was cast just last Saturday, paving the way for the 24km superstructure to follow suit.

With the completion date for the bridge now expected to be two months ahead of the September 2013 target, excitement is growing on the ground.

General worker Mohd Tarmizi Yazid, 38, said journeys to and from the mainland would be much easier, especially for lorries and cargo freights.

“Things will be so much faster with a bridge on this side (of the island).

“Lorries and cargo vehicles have limited hours to use the first bridge and it has become very congested,” said Tarmizi.

The father of three, whose family has lived in Permatang Damar Laut, Bayan Lepas, for generations, said the price of land was also rising in the south of the island.

“With the bridge, more public facilities are sure to follow and I’ve heard that the price of our land is going up,” said Tarmizi.

Commuters from the mainland are also counting the days until the new link opens.

Penang Seagate Industries (M) Sdn Bhd manufacturing senior engineer Tan Soo Min said the second bridge could not open soon enough for her.

“If the second bridge wasn’t being built, I would sell my house in Simpang Ampat and buy a small apartment on the island.

“I’m so tired of the traffic jams on the current bridge,” said Tan, 31.

She said that currently, the 33km journey from her house to Penang Seagate via the first bridge takes her 50 minutes in the mornings, while return journeys after work take about one-and-a-half hours.

She said even though her journey to work using the second link would be slightly lon-

ger than if she used the first bridge, she would take the new bridge as long as the trip was faster.

Tan’s co-worker P. Maran, 47, said the second bridge would provide an alternative for commuters.

“I’m excited as there are now two options for people.

“I’ve had many experiences with the first bridge with events putting traffic at a standstill.

“For example, when there was a bomb scare there a few years ago, I had to leave my car overnight in Bayview Hotel Georgetown and take a taxi to the ferry to get home,” said Maran, a production manager who has commuted from Bukit Minyak on the mainland to the island for 18 years.

He said he hoped a good access road would be built to the second link to ensure there were no jams leading up to the new bridge.

Aside from those eager to make use of the Second Penang Bridge, commuters who are nearer the first bridge are also all smiles.

Driver Nasir Udin’s hope is that with the new link, the traffic on the old bridge will be considerably smoother.

“I hope there will be less congestion on the first bridge.

“Now it takes me about 40 minutes by mo-torcycle to reach Batu Maung from Permatang Tok Jaya,” said Nasir, 44.

Fisheries Development Authority Board (LKIM) assistant accountant Manjawati Sam-suddin, 36, said she would use the second link if she heard of any accidents happening on the first bridge.

“Once an accident happens, no matter how minor, semua habis (things are finished). You can be stuck on the bridge for an hour,” she said.

Manjawati, who makes the 112km-round trip journey to Penang island from Sungai Petani every day, added that she hoped the second link, like the first bridge, would offer a reduced toll of RM5.60 (from RM7) for frequent travellers.

Source: The Star

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