GEORGE TOWN: The first project under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) got underway today when Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow, officiated the ground breaking ceremony of the 6km-long road which will link Bandar Baru Ayer Itam (Farlim) to the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

The project would begin in earnest in April next year and it is expected to be completed by April, 2023.

The construction of the Package 2 project would be undertaken by the project delivery partner, Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd.

One of the consultants is the China construction giant, CRCC Malaysian Sdn Bhd, whose executive general manager Huang Zheng was also present besides Zenith chairman Tan Sri Azmi Khalid, as well as its senior executive directors Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli and Datuk Lee Chee Hoe.

Chow said that the contractors have also hired specialists to help road users cope with temporary alternative routes along the Thean Teik Highway to Bukit Gambir during the construction.

“The contractors would try to ensure that the road users would not be adversely affected by the pace of the roadworks.”

Most of the construction would be done along the hilly areas where the density is low.

The travel time from Ayer Itam to the expressway would just be five minutes upon completion compared to the 40 minutes it takes currently.

The new road can handle 7,000 vehicles per hour.

Chow said that the traffic dispersal system on the southern part of the island, would be faster and efficient.

He urged residents along the construction route to be patient in the 36-months needed to complete the project as once done, it means commuting would be easier.

Zenith was incorporated as a special purpose vehicle on July 5, 2012, to undertake four components (packages) of three major road projects and a third link (an undersea cross channel tunnel between Gurney Drive and Bagan Ajam).

It won the bid through an open-tender process in 2013.

The state would bear the costs by reimbursing Zenith from land proceeds from the reclamation project off Gurney Drive.

Besides, the Ayer Itam expressway project, the other three packages are the northern coastal paired road from Tanjung Bungah to Teluk Bahang (9.6km), Gurney Drive expressway (4km) and the tunnel from Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam (7.2km).

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