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Thursday November 8, 2012

Work on Pudu Underpass project at halfway mark

Challenging: Work at the
Underpass 2 is in progress
as contractors are digging
deeper underground to
make way for the
underlying cables. Challenging: Work at the Underpass 2 is in progress as contractors are digging deeper underground to make way for the underlying cables.

MOTORISTS travelling along Jalan Pudu are in for good news as the Pudu Underpass Project by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed by end of 2013.

DBKL Civil Engineering and Drainage Department director Tan Keng Chok said the work progress was at 54% as of Oct 31. It meant that the project was 86 days ahead from the actual scheduled timelime.

The construction work has taken up two of the six lanes, causing Cheras-bound traffic along Jalan Pudu to squeeze into two lanes from the previous three, further aggravating traffic congestion in the area.

“The project was supposed to be completed on Sept 18, 2011 but was delayed due to underlying utility cables at the said construction site.

“In addition, the contractors appointed by Telekom Malaysia (TM) did not perform their tasks as required,” Tan told StarMetro during an interview at Menara DBKL 1 in Jalan Raja Laut, Kuala Lumpur recently.

“Construction of underpasses in Kuala Lumpur is difficult as there are many underlying cables which can obstruct any kind of construction work.

“To relocate the cables would cost RM70mil and another two years to complete. To resolve this, DBKL came up with a solution to dig in deeper (10.4m) from road surface,” said Tan.

He added that the work also involved the relocation of other utility cables and pipes belonging to telco, Gas Malaysia and Intergrated Transport Information System (ITIS) lines in various stages.

The Pudu Underpass Project entails the construction of three underpasses (Underpass 1, Underpass 2 and 3 carried out simulaneously), upgrading of Jalan Galloway, Jalan Hang Tuah, Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah and the construction of two footbridges in Jalan Pudu and Jalan Hang Tuah, among others.

Tan said Underpass 1 caters for vehicles from Jalan Bukit Bintang to Jalan Pudu, Underpass 2 caters for motorists from Jalan Pudu heading towards Cheras, while Underpass 3 serves motorists from Jalan Pudu to Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah.

The consultant for the RM129mil project is Khairi Consult Sdn Bhd, while the contractors are Pertama Makmur Sdn Bhd and A S Masa Sdn Bhd.

The estimated length from Underpass 1 to Underpass 3 is approximately 800m.

The initial cost was RM83mil when the project commenced in March 2009.

He said effective Dec 15, motorists from Jalan Bukit Bintang would not be allowed to turn right to Jalan Pudu, as works on Underpass 1 was scheduled to begin.

Simultaneously, motorists from Jalan Pudu will also be barred from turning left to Jalan Bukit Bintang.

Tan explained that the construction work on Underpass 1 involved diversion of traffic to Lorong Pudu 10 (which is currently undergoing upgrades as the road was previously occupied by 11 hawker stalls).

“These hawkers were relocated on Oct 18 and are now temporarily placed opposite Corona Inn in Jalan Tong Shin. Once this work is completed by end of this month, we will proceed to partially close Jalan Bukit Bintang/Jalan Pudu.

“Traffic will then be diverted to the new junction at Jalan Pudu and Lorong Pudu 10, whereby motorists are allowed to turn right from Lorong Pudu 10 to Jalan Pudu (Pudu-Sentral bound) and also turn left from Jalan Pudu to Lorong Pudu 10,” said Tan.

He assured motorists that adequate signage would be put up to ensure a smooth flow and effective traffic management.

“There will definitely be a slight confusion when traffic diversion takes place, but we hope that motorists will be patient as we are trying our best to speed up work,” Tan added.

Meanwhile, Tan said the construction work on Underpass 3 in Jalan Changkat Thambi Dollah was also in progress, although the work also entailed the relocation of telco cables.

When asked to comment on the traffic light system in the area as some motorists had complained that the green time was too short for Cheras-bound traffic along Jalan Pudu and at the Jalan Imbi-Jalan Pudu intersection, Tan said this was managed by DBKL’s traffic light control centre with the assistance of the police.

“There will be police personnel to monitor the traffic situation in the area during peak hours.

“When the traffic flow is bad, the police will inform the control centre, who will then reset the timing accordingly,” he said, adding that at times the police would manage the traffic flow on their own.

Apart from managing the traffic flow at the construction site, the challenging tasks faced by DBKL and the contractors include managing the traffic flow during construction, protection and relocation of underground utilities such as 132kV high-tension, 33kV and 11kV Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), TM and telco cables, as well as Syabas water mains and Gas Malaysia pipes.

“We also had to protect existing structures and buildings such as monorail columns, apart from mobilising and demobilising heavy machineries to the work site in the busy city centre.

“However, the most difficult task is conducting excavation work at the busy intersection of Jalan Pudu, Jalan Imbi and Jalan Hang Tuah whereby the contractors had to construct proper strutting (to retain the excavated trench wall from collapsing) and temporary structures for depth exceeding 10m,” he said.

He added that relocation of TM cables had to be done in stages due to the heavy traffic at the intersection and closure of roads could only be done at night.

Tan said the relocation of 11 hawker stalls from Jalan Pudu 10 to Jalan Tong Shin was also an intricate task as they had been doing business in the area since 1995.

DBKL had to turn to MPs to urge the hawkers to move to a temporary location.

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