‘Third bridge for Penang must be over 80m above sea level’

GEORGE TOWN: A third bridge for Penang instead of an undersea tunnel will have to be more than 80m above the sea, about three times the height of the Penang Bridge.

Penang Port Sdn Bhd chief opera­ting officer V. Sasedharan said this was necessary for ships to continue calling on the port.

For example, he said, the mega cruise ship Oasis of the Seas has an air draft of 72m.

“That is her height from the water line to the tip of her communications antenna.

“There are other ships taller than her.

“So if the state wants to build a bridge on the northern side of Penang Port, consider the present and future air drafts of ocean liners,” Sasedharan added.

The gap between the water and the mid-span of the Penang Bridge, he said, was only 33m and as a result many vessels were unable to sail below it.

He said even the Superstar Libra, which used Swettenham Pier on the island as its homeport, had an air draft of 48m.

Sasedharan was commenting on whether the third link between the island and the mainland should be a bridge or an undersea tunnel.

Though the initial planning since 2012 was for a tunnel by 2027, the state government asked the Works Ministry last year if it could grant approval in principle for a bridge from Gurney Drive on the island to Bagan Ajam on the mainland.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng repeated the call for this approval yesterday in response to Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof’s offer to assist the state.

On Thursday, Fadillah expressed concern about the progress of the feasibility studies on the undersea tunnel and offered assistance.

Lim said he welcomed the offer to help and hoped the ministry could approve the third bridge plan.

“We just need approval in prin­ciple before we start the planning and design,” he said at a press con­­ference in his Komtar office yesterday.

He also said that the feasibility studies for the Penang undersea tunnel was 87% complete and that the state government needed to get the master plan for the Butterworth Outer Ring Road and 650ha reclamation to complete it.

Transport Safety , port , bridge , tunnel