New expressway coming to fruition


BY ANGIE NG

ROAD Builder (M) Holdings Bhd's acquisition of New Pantai Expressway Sdn Bhd (NPE) in 2001 will soon bear fruit, and in about seven months, motorists can cruise on this third direct link between Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya if they choose to avoid the congested Federal Highway, Road Builder executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Chua Hock Chin said. 

NPE, a wholly owned subsidiary of Road Builder, holds the concession for New Pantai Highway, an intra-urban highway linking KL to PJ. The RM1bil highway, at present 80% complete, is expected to be ready by the first quarter of next year. 

Tan Sri Chua Hock Chin

“The 19.6km highway offers motorists a choice of completely avoiding the infamous daily bumper-to-bumper crawls on the Federal Highway. This ultra-modern highway will primarily serve the heavily congested KL-PJ corridor where an estimated 800,000 vehicles ply each day – complementing both the Federal Highway on the north and the Shah Alam Expressway on the south,” Chua said in an interview with StarBiz.  

Running along an east-west alignment, the highway comprises several kilometres of greenfield stretches as well as sections involving upgrades to the existing road. About 6.5 km of the highway are elevated sections. 

The PJ end of the highway starts at Jalan Tujuan/Jalan Subang Utama intersection, traverses along Subang Jaya, Bandar Sunway and into Kampung Medan and onto Jalan Kelang Lama. It continues along Jalan Kelang Lama, passes Jalan Templer and continues into Kampung Pasir and onto Pantai Dalam. At this juncture, it branches out into two separate links – one continues from Pantai Dalam to Jalan Bangsar in KL, while the other links Pantai Dalam to the KL-Seremban Highway at Jalan Kuchai Lama. The highway will also link up with the Sungei Besi Highway. 

Another important link includes a new slip road into the new highway along the Federal Highway in front of the Mid Valley Megamall shopping complex. PJ-bound motorists coming from KL will be able to join the New Pantai Highway at this point. 

The highway comprises eight interchanges/intersections, 19 bridges and 10 pedestrian bridges. It will incorporate modern facilities such as variable message sign, closed circuit television, traffic control centre, a round-the-clock traffic monitoring and surveillance system, and a fully equipped highway patrol unit. 

In early 2001, Road Builder proposed to acquire NPE from Berjaya Land Bhd for RM210mil. The acquisition, which was finally completed in July 2001, saw the group taking over the stalled highway project.  

Neoh Soon Hiong monitoring the highway's progress at the Pantai Dalam interchange.

NPE was originally awarded the toll road concession in 1996 but work stalled following the onset of the Asian financial crisis in late 1997.  

NPE general manager Neoh Soon Hiong said since taking over the concession, work has progressed at a feverish pace, and within six months, the entire 3.5km stretch between Subang Utama and the PJS5 underpass was completed, thereby eliminating the traffic chaos which had plagued the vicinity for more than five years. 

“The last two and a half years have been extremely challenging years for our turnkey contractor who has had to work within a very tight budget. To ensure there was no project cost overruns, we decided to cap the overall project cost within the original 1996 estimate of about RM1bil. The team also has to work towards an extremely tight construction schedule and deal with serious site constraints given the live traffic situation in several locations. 

“Traffic management was made a top priority to ensure that minimal disruptions were imposed on the existing road users. Whenever necessary, work was carried out at night to ease traffic disruptions.” 

He said innovative new technology was also employed to ease the burden on motorists.  

“A case in point – the crossheads for the piers along the elevated sections of the highway along Jalan Kelang Lama were constructed using the pre-cast segmental method for the first time in Malaysia. In so doing, normal traffic flow was maintained along the highway while work could be carried out at the elevated sections at night,” Neoh said. 

“A total revamp of the original highway alignment was also undertaken to iron out `kinks’ and sharp S-curves to improve traffic flow. 

“The revised highway design allows for a totally unimpeded traffic flow for Subang-KL motorists who will be separated from local traffic by an elevated stretch of highway along Jalan Kelang Lama. With its ultra-modern design, travel from Subang Jaya to Jalan Bangsar or to Jalan Kuchai Lama is expected to take about 10 minutes compared with about an hour along the Federal Highway. Likewise a trip between Jalan Bangsar to Jalan Kuchai Lama or the KL-Seremban Highway is expected to take no more than eight minutes compared to at least 30 minutes currently,” said Neoh. 

The highway has also been reengineered to cater for the anticipated high traffic volume growth in the future years. The majority of the entire highway is being constructed as a dual six-lane carriageway, expanding to as many as 10 lanes in heavily trafficked stretches. 

Neoh said that to make way for the highway, about 1,900 squatters in the Federeral Territory and Selangor had to be relocated to alternative low-cost housing schemes or in transit homes pending the construction of new low-cost housing. 

“Today, all the squatters have been successfully relocated, and all other squatter and land acquisition issues have been amicably resolved, with the cooperation of all the related government agencies.” 

He said to facilitate the speedy relocation of the squatters, NPE was given the task of constructing over 1,000 low cost homes in Pantai Dalam on a piece of land given by the government, adding that construction work was underway and would be completed by mid-2005. 

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