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Tuesday May 15, 2007

Higher toll expected for SMART tunnel


KUALA LUMPUR: Road users should be prepared to pay higher toll for a newly opened road tunnel here because of its cost, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said. 

He, however, declined to reveal the toll rate for the 3km road portion of the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) which motorists would be able to use for free for a month. 

“There are a lot of suggestions but the Government is still thinking about it,” he said during a press conference after the opening ceremony here yesterday. 

Samy Vellu said the public had to understand that SMART took a lot of time and money to build. 

“One must not think that the toll for this 3km tunnel will be like normal highways. It is different,” he said. 

Asked whether it would be expensive, he jokingly said: “Mesti tinggilah (of course, it will be high).”  

The tunnel is the first in the world which had dual functions. Besides being a road tunnel, it will also be used for floodwater diversion.  

Motorists can enter the road tunnel from the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Expressway near the Sungai Besi airfield runway and exit either at Jalan Davis and Jalan Tun Razak near the Kampung Pandan roundabout, or vice-versa.  

The tunnel is open only to cars, MPVs and SUVs not exceeding 2m in height. No motorcycles, buses or lorries are allowed. Touch ‘n Go and SmartTag facilities are available for paying toll. 

Samy Vellu said the Government was looking at building more tunnels, whether through hills or underground, to overcome traffic congestion. 

“We have to stop cutting slopes and build tunnels and bridges or we will have problems with slopes after a hundred years,” he said. 

On the flood diversion portion of the SMART project, Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah, who was also at the ceremony, said finishing touches were being done now and it would become operational in August.  

Another 7km of tunnel of the project will be used only for flood water diversion.  

Dr Martin Herrenknecht, whose company was involved in the tunnel boring, said he was happy the job was almost done.  

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