An aerial view of where the proposed 200m underpass between Jalan Mount Erskine and Jalan Burmah will be built next year.
Residents living in Pulau Tikus, George Town, have expressed apprehension over the proposed RM30mil one-way underpass to link Jalan Mount Erskine with Jalan Burmah.
Many believe the 200m-tunnel will not solve the traffic problem in the area and they prefer the traffic-heavy stretch from Jalan Gottlieb towards Jalan Bagan Jermal be upgraded instead.
Mechanic Yeoh Loo Huat, 54, said that the traffic was at its worst when parents pick up their children from the schools — Penang Chinese Girls Primary School, Penang Chinese Girls High School and Penang Chinese Girls (Private) High School — along the Jalan Gottlieb-Jalan Bagan Jermal stretch.
Yeoh said he could not figure out how the underpass would be built as Jalan Mount Erskine and Jalan Burmah were narrow.
“I guess the only way for them to build the underpass is to widen the roads. It will be good when Penang Island City Council releases the project details,” he said.
Another resident who wished to be known only as Lau, 65, agreed that Jalan Gottlieb should be upgraded.
“Traffic can hardly move when parents park, sometimes two or three abreast, to pick up their children at the schools.
“They should focus on the proposed Penang outer ring road instead of this,” said Lau of the federal project.
The project to build the PORR expressway to connect Gelugor in the south near Penang Bridge to Tanjung Bungah in the north has been sitting on the shelf.
Chow Siew Lee, who lives in the vicinity, walks to work from Jalan Mount Erskine to Jalan Bagan Jermal.
“It will be good if the authorities upgrade the sidewalks for pedestrians. I am one of them,” she said.
The 59-year-old, who has low vision, said that she would use the single white lines at the edge of the road as a guide when making her way to work.
“The road is narrow so I don’t know if installing a pavement will be possible.
“I walk to work every morning. For people who are unable to see clearly, it can be quite tricky,” said Chow, a computer braillist at the St Nicholas Home for the Blind.
Pulau Tikus assemblyman Yap Soo Huey, when contacted, said the underpass was proposed as part of the Penang integrated Transport Master Plan.
“It is still at the conceptual stage and the details of the project have yet to be confirmed by the council.
“When the consultants submit a proposal, we will have a better overall picture. I will also discuss it with my constituents,” Yap said.
The project, expected to start early next year and ready by end-2016, is expected to reduce traffic congestion by 30%.
Infrastructure and Traffic Committee alternate chairman Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the one-way underpass from Mount Erskine to Jalan Burmah would be one-and- half-lane wide.
“Presently, the Jalan Mount Erskine capacity is limited. Traffic queues on the road are very long,” he said.
When asked whether pedestrian walkways would be upgraded, he said, “I don’t think that will be a difficult task.” - By The Star