‘Exercise track to remain open’

Zairil (right) with Toh and Syerleena (left) looking at The Light Interchange plan.

THE cycling and jogging track leading to the Queensbay area along the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway will remain open while works on The Light Interchange take place.

Penang infrastructure and transport committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari has given his assurance, although he said the track would “shift” as and when construction by IJM Land started in the area.

He also said the track leading to Karpal Singh Drive was closed indefinitely to facilitate widening of the expressway.

“These tracks running along the Linear Park were always meant to be temporary.

“A better track for cycling and jogging leading to Karpal Singh Drive will be available along The Light City waterfront promenade when the development is completed in early 2025,” he told reporters at a press conference.

Also present were Penang Infrastructure Corporation chief executive officer Datuk Seri Farizan Darus, Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid, IJM Land advisor Datuk Toh Chin Leong and IJM Land northern region general manager Goh Su Yin.

Launched in October 2012, the bicycle track is a collaboration between Penang Municipal Council, now known as the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), and five developers.

It is part of the state government’s Bicycle Lane Master Plan to create 120km of bicycle lanes encircling the island and another 80km on the mainland.

In a Jan 25 report in The Star, cyclists and joggers expressed unhappiness at the closure of the track which had been maintained by IJM Land at a cost of RM13,000 per month for the past nine years.

Toh said work on the RM110mil interchange involving the construction of new elevated ramps connecting to The Light City is scheduled for completion by November 2024, almost in tandem with The Light City’s completion.

“We will demolish the two pedestrian bridges located near the Caltex petrol station and next to the Coastal Runners statues in February and April respectively.

“We will then rebuild one at a more suitable place along the expressway,” he said.

Toh added that ownership of the Linear Park was shared by the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) and the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), and once the interchange was completed, maintenance might be from MBPP, subject to approval from LLM and DID.

The Light City, a RM4.5bil mixed development project located next to Penang Bridge, will have the Penang Waterfront Convention Centre (PWCC) – the largest in the state with 25,000sq m of gross floor area, a 139,354sq m retail mall, 34-storey hotel and office towers as well as two residential projects.

When asked about congestion, Toh said traffic would be manageable as long as motorists refrained from parking illegally and highlighted that the PWCC would have 2,600 parking bays.

The mall and surrounding buildings will also have parking bays.

The construction of the Package Two Bypass linking Ayer Itam to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway was scheduled to start in August next year but this is subject to completion of the ramp at The Light Interchange.

Zairil said the bypass, which is one of the components under the Penang Transport Master Plan, was already 27% completed with bore-pile work and road widening taking place along Jalan Thean Teik in front of Farlim Market Complex.

“The ‘left in-left out’ access will head towards the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway through the area between the Marine Department building and KD Sri Pinang.

“The Package Two Bypass, which is scheduled for completion in January 2025, will consist of three interchanges – Lebuhraya Thean Teik-Jalan Thean Teik, Jalan Bukit Gambir-Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway that will include a 870m-long elevated U-turn,” he said.

The 6km toll-free road will have a stretch of 1.8km on the ground level and the other parts elevated. There are viaduct structures (65%), tunnels (20%) and grade sections (15%) on this road.

Upon completion, the bypass is expected to reduce travel time and bring long-term benefits to Penang residents, especially the 300,000 residing in Ayer Itam, Bandar Baru Ayer Itam and the adjoining Paya Terubong.

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