GEORGE TOWN: The proposed 19.5km Pan-Island Link I (PIL I) from Gurney Drive to the airport will have tunnels wherever it crosses foothills.
But there is one green lung the highway, which is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan, cannot avoid – the Penang City Park.
An elevated section of the highway will cut across the treasured urban park, which was set up in 1972.
To reduce the number of pillars to support the elevated section, the contractor will use stay cables, creating a Penang Bridge lookalike over the park.
“If it could have been avoided, our consultants would have avoided City Park,” Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow told reporters yesterday.
With the stay cables, this 480m section will only have two pillars planted on the park’s grounds, with the six-lane highway looming 20m to 30m overhead.
While many non-governmental groups have criticised the design on Facebook, Chow said the preservation of the environment around PIL I would be the priority, and that the plan had the least socio-environmental impact.
Project delivery partner SRS Consortium project director Szeto Wai Loong said noise barriers would be put up along the park section of the highway.
He also gave the assurance that there would be no cutting of hills or erosion.
“Tunnelling will be expensive but we have to do it because hills are sensitive areas,” he said.
With a speed limit of 70kph for cars, the PIL I will take motorists from Gurney Drive to the airport in just 15 minutes in comparison with up to 90 minutes on a bad traffic day through the streets of George Town.
The Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment can now be viewed in 10 locations in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Penang until Aug 10.
A summary can be obtained from www.doe.gov.my, www.wirandamsdnbhd.com or www.penang.gov.my or www.pgmasterplan.penang.gov.my.
The public can submit their views in writing to the Department of Environment before Aug 24.
A copy of the report is also available for sale for RM1,000 from the EIA Project Consultant Wiranda (M) Sdn Bhd.