GEORGE TOWN: The cancellation of the controversial Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1) highway project is not an option. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today the project would begin as soon as the Federal Government gave its approval.
“If it is not rejected (by the Federal Government), then we will make the necessary adjustments (based on feedbacks received) before we kick-start the project,” he said.
“For us, this project is crucial to alleviate traffic congestion on the island. We intend to start building the most-needed section of PIL 1, which is the last section from Bukit Gedung to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
“The construction of PIL 1 from Bukit Gedung to the Bayan Lepas interchange will have a major positive impact by providing relief to Penangites who live and work in the Sungai Ara, Relau, Bayan Baru and Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone areas that are heavily congested on working days.”
He said the state government would hold a town hall meeting on the PIL 1 highway project early next month, pending official notification by the Environment Department. He said details would be announced soon.
Chow said the state government had engaged more than 16,500 stakeholders on its transport initiatives, which included PIL 1, light rail transit and Penang South Reclamation projects.
“We have conducted 965 engagement sessions since December 2015 and we will continue to hold similar sessions, with several planned soon, he added, brushing aside claims that the state government had not been transparent about the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP), which includes PIL 1.
“In fact, this is the largest-ever engagement sessions for any projects, not only in Penang, but in the country.”
He added that, although it was not required by law, the state had taken the initiative to put the Request For Proposal documents for the project on public display.
The 19.5km PIL 1 highway includes a 10km tunnel that cuts through the hills in Bukit Bendera, Paya Terubong and Sungai Ara to alleviate traffic congestion. It will also cut across the Youth Park.
The multi-billion ringgit highway will allow traffic to go directly from Gurney Drive to Gottlieb Road, Youth Park, Sungai Keluang and the Second Penang Bridge, cutting travelling time by more than half. The highway project will affect 226 buildings.
Numerous protests have been held by Penangites and non-governmental organisations to call for the PIL 1 to be scrapped and for the PTMP to be reviewed. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd