Despite already having two bridges connecting Penang Island and Seberang Perai, the state government is pushing for a third bridge, and is now waiting for the federal government’s approval to build it.
The state government’s initial proposal was to build an undersea tunnel linking Gurney Drive and Bagan Ajam on the mainland with three main expressways at an estimated cost of RM6.341 billion.
With the undersea tunnel receiving a lot of not-so-good feedback from the public, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng then proposed to replace it with a third bridge and challenged the federal government to approve the project as he planned to make it toll-free.
With the population in Penang Island and Seberang Perai at about 1.6 million people, experts questioned the necessity for a third bridge.
A former lecturer in town and regional planning at the School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Associate Professor Dr Hassim Mat said roads in Penang Island are already very congested, especially during peak hours, and that traffic policemen have to be stationed at various locations to ease traffic flow.
He said the third bridge would only bring in more vehicles to Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Tikus and Gurney Drive, and thus cause more congestion.
“Why bring more traffic to the already-congested roads in Penang Island. A more logical move is to resolve the problems of traffic congestion here first.
“I am not against the [proposed] plan but as of now, I do not think another bridge will help to ease the traffic situation in Penang Island, but it will only worsen traffic congestion on the island as there will be an increase in the number of vehicles on the road,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview.
Hassim said what Penang needs is a proper urban planning and traffic management system, not a third bridge that would result in more traffic chaos.
Penang’s second bridge, Jambatan Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah (JSAHMS), was opened in 2014 and reported to be underutilised, recording an average of only 14,300 vehicles daily.
Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd acting managing director and chief operating officer Mohd Ashari Alias said the target set by the company was a daily average of 25,000 vehicles after five years of operation.
He said the number of vehicles using JSAHMS would be fewer if another bridge were to be built to link Penang Island to the mainland.
The proposed construction of a third bridge is believed to also affect the ferry service linking the island and mainland. - The Edge Property