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GEORGE TOWN: The tallest elevated road in the country, linking Ayer Itam and Bayan Lepas on Penang, is finally open, but traffic was light on the first day.

The 3.8km stretch of road winds around Bukit Kukus from Lebuh Bukit Jambul on the Bayan Lepas side to Jalan Tun Sardon and Paya Terubong in Ayer Itam.

The elevated road, expected to serve about 60,000 motorists a day, links the most densely populated neighbourhoods on the island and is expected to relieve traffic congestion on the old roads by 30%.

It also has a cycling lane, giving users a view of green forest in the area from 61.5m above ground.

Universiti Sains Malaysia assistant engineer Abdul Rahim Mansor, 45, rode his mountain bike along the stretch and gave it the thumbs up.

“It’s scenic up here and there is fresh air in the hills,” he said.

For courier Muhammad Izzat Othman, 21, the new road is a huge blessing.

“I travel between my office near Komtar to Bayan Baru, and the journey would usually take an hour using the old route. Today, it took only 20 minutes,” he said.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the project is the biggest ever implemented by the council, costing RM378.2mil for construction, land acquisition and consultancy.

“Due to the rapid development of the island, new infrastructure is required,” he said.

He added that off-road cycling enthusiasts could use trails provided under the viaduct.

MBPP secretary A. Rajendran said that the road is safe as it had passed all safety requirements.

He said that the road was designed in accordance with Malaysian standards, adding that “the speed limit is controlled and the safety of corners has been looked into”.

Rajendran said regular checks will be conducted on the elevated road, which has a lifespan of 99 years.

Construction on the Bukit Kukus paired road started in January 2016 but work on the project was delayed not only by the Covid-19-triggered movement control order in 2020 but also by several tragic mishaps.

In October 2018, 14 beams fell, leading to a stop work order from the Occupational Safety & Health Department.

Two days after that, a landslide destroyed 12 container cabins, killing nine foreign workers and injuring four.

The main contractor, Syarikat Yuta Maju Sdn Bhd, was fined RM35,000 in February last year for failing to ensure safe work procedures.

Source: The Star, LO TERN CHERN/January 14, 2022

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