Little hiccup after bypass opens

Top News | Jane Cheung 8 Jan 2019

Motorists can start using the Central-Wan Chai Bypass to travel between Hong Kong Island West and East starting on January 20, but a section of the link will only open a month later.

The bypass, to open for traffic at 8am on a Sunday, will greatly relieve traffic congestion in Central and Wan Chai.

The HK$36 billion 4.5-kilometer link will form a prime route along the north shore of Hong Kong Island after almost 10 years of construction since December 2009.

Motorists can drive from Central to Wan Chai and North Point and vice versa. They can also get to Central by entering the link from Tsing Fung Street in Tin Hau.

But during the first month after the opening, the section of the bypass connecting the exit in Central to the Rumsey Street Flyover will be blocked for construction.

Eddie Leung Siu-kong, chief traffic engineer from the Transport Department, said motorists only have to drive for about 300 meters more to Central before they could head to Hong Kong Island West, but assured that it would not bring heavier congestion to the busy district.

"Those who will use the bypass are those who usually drive past Central on busy streets if there is no bypass, so there isn't additional traffic," he said.

Wilson Pang Wai-shing, acting deputy commissioner for transport, said the link provides an extra option for drivers, as the existing east-west link on Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road and Gloucester Road Corridor was past its capacity with serious traffic congestion observed.

"But the bypass doesn't serve to tackle the congested traffic, and we will introduce the electronic road pricing scheme to alleviate clogged roads in Central," he said.

The bypass comprises a dual three-lane trunk road including major roads linking Central and North Point and slip roads connecting to Wan Chai and Tin Hau.

Police reminded drivers to decide on their destination before entering the bypass, as the three lanes in each direction are designated for a fixed stop and drivers are not allowed to cut lanes.

Lee Man-yiu, police superintendent in enforcement and control on Hong Kong Island, said: "Drivers should drive within the speed limit of 80 kilometers an hour on the main road and within 50 km/h on slip roads leading to their destinations."

Responding to concerns about the uneven color and cracks on the walls and ceilings inside of the tunnel, the Highways Department said it is a normal result after the thermal barrier- which contains a natural ingredient called vermiculite - dried up.

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