KUALA BERANG: Work on the second phase of the East Coast Highway from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu has finally taken off with the ground-breaking ceremony of the RM50mil bridge across Sungai Telemong here.
The 350m-long bridge is part of the 174.5km highway from Jabor at the Terengganu-Pahang border to Sungai Tong, north of the state capital.
Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the RM1.5bil project would be completed in three years.
It will reduce travelling time from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur to only five hours compared to the eight to 10 hours now, he said.
He said the project would have been 80% completed if it had started during PAS' four-and a-half-year rule of the state.
Samy Vellu said nine interchanges would be built at Jabor, Bandar Baru Cheneh, Air Putih, Kubu, Al-Muktafi Billal Shah, Bukit Besi, Ajil, Bukit Payung and Sungai Tong.
He said six rest and recreation centres would also be built.
Samy Vellu said MTD Capital Bhd would undertake 30% of the project through direct negotiation, 50% would be awarded to bumiputra contractors and the rest to Terengganu-based bumiputra contractors.
He said the Federal Government had drawn a new alignment of the road because it was easier and faster to acquire large parcels of land than small lots.
Initially, about 450 houses would have to be demolished but with the new alignment, it would only affect about 20 or 30 houses, he said.
Taking a lesson from the alleged dangerous stretches in East Coast Highway in Pahang, he said the Malaysian Highway Authority would closely monitor the construction work.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the new state government, which took office in March, had pushed hard for the project.
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