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Wednesday April 1, 2009

Fear over traffic congestion

PETALING Jaya residents, especially those living near the Tropicana City Mall, are worried that the tight traffic situation will turn chaotic when the entire Tropicana City project is completed.

The mall, located at the intersection between the Sprint Highway and Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), is part of a mixed commercial development that includes Tropicana City Business Park (formerly known as Damansara Intan e-Business Park), and the soon-to-be-completed Tropicana City Office Tower and Tropicana City Tropics Service Suites.

Congested: The scene outside Tropicana City Mall in the evening.

The 12-storey office tower block is scheduled to be completed by the middle of this year, while the 601-unit Tropics Service Suites block is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year.

It has been reported that the mall developer would also build two ramps costing RM17mil to provide better access to the mall.

According to PJ Utara MP Tony Pua, the major issue now is how to address the traffic problem.

“While the ramp to Jalan Daman-sara Lama will help as residents will have a direct route when heading towards Kuala Lumpur, instead of having to do a U-turn at the LDP, I’m not sure what it will be like once both ramps are opened,” Pua said.

“The access road to the project is badly designed and dangerous as it is quite a blind-sided road.

“There is no contingency for emergencies and one accident will cause a massive traffic backlog,” he said.

Peak-hour traffic: Tan has attributed the cause of the congestion to the backlog of traffic, including that from the Sprint Expressway (Damansara Link).

Pua said residents had wondered why the mall was allowed to open for business although its premises and ramps were not fully completed.

“What is needed is a complete overhaul of the public transport system, although the local council has no significant control of it in Petaling Jaya,” he said.

Pua also urged developers to include public transport plans for future developments and for those of existing developments.

Councillor Cynthia Gabriel, who sits on the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Traffic and Infrastructure Committee, agrees with Pua on the need for a more efficient public transport system.

“We are now discussing and finalising several proposals to provide greater access to LRT stations within housing areas and shopping malls,” Cynthia said.

“There is a fear that the present infrastructure isn’t able to accommodate the increasing traffic flow, and we are now faced with the real concern of over-density and over-development in the newer parts of Petaling Jaya.

“It is essential for the macro traffic study for the whole of PJ to be done without delay, and the MBPJ plans to start it this year,” Cynthia said.

According to All-Petaling Jaya Residents Associations Coalition (APAC) chairman Liew Wei Beng, the present traffic congestion is already very bad, and he could not imagine what it would be like once the entire Tropicana City project is fully occupied.

“This project and its traffic dispersal system weren’t properly planned.

“ The MBPJ should engage an independent traffic consultant to do a comprehensive traffic study and not rely on the developer’s consultant,” Liew said.

“This should be done soon to give the MBPJ time to do something before the occupancy qualification certificate is given for the occupants to move into the offices and apartments,” he said.

Tropicana City Sdn Bhd senior general manager Tan Hoi Kwan attributed the cause of the congestion to the backlog of traffic, and insisted that it was not because of the mall.

“On one side is the backlog from the LDP for those heading towards the Sunway-Puchong direction; on the other side is the backlog from the Sprint Expressway (Damansara Link),” he said.

“To facilitate the turn in and out of Jalan SS2/72 and on the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) recommendations, we have created an additional lane as a slow lane.” Tan said.

“Before this lane was included, the interchange from Sprint to the LDP was only two lanes,” he said.

On the two ramps to facilitate access to the mall, Tan said the first ramp to Jalan Damansara Lama, for KL-bound traffic, was recently opened.

“We’ll be starting work soon on the second ramp, which links the mall directly to the Sprint Expressway, for the NKVE Expressway-bound traffic.

“Construction work is expected to start within a month and completed by the third quarter of this year,” Tan said.

On the traffic situation following the complete occupation of the office tower and service apartments, Tan said the increase in traffic volume would not be substantial and the impact would be minimal.

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