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LCQ4: Traffic congestion along the link roads to the Aberdeen Tunnel

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Hok-ming and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (June 10):


     Some residents on Hong Kong Island have complained to me about the serious traffic congestion along the link roads at the northern exit of the Aberdeen Tunnel, especially at the road section around the interchange between Wong Nai Chung Road and Queen's Road East.  They say that it usually takes 20 minutes for vehicles to get through that road section on Saturday afternoons, making it difficult for passengers to estimate their travelling time.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective average vehicular traffic per hour at the aforesaid road section during peak hours and non-peak hours;

(b) whether it has assessed what help the commissioning of the MTR West Island Line and South Island Line, as well as the Central-Wan Chai Bypass will be in solving the traffic congestion on Hong Kong Island (especially at the aforesaid road section); if it is of little help in respect of the aforesaid road section, what long-term solutions are available; and

(c) of the short-term measures to alleviate the traffic congestion at the aforesaid road section?


     The traffic volume of Aberdeen Tunnel recorded over the past few years remained quite stable with insignificant changes.  That said, traffic condition at Aberdeen Tunnel and its exit link roads is affected by various factors, including ad hoc traffic incidents or accidents, traffic condition at the Hung Hom Cross-Habour Tunnel entrance on Hong Kong Island, lane changing on Wong Nai Chung Road northbound near Queen's Road East and traffic condition in Causeway Bay.  According to the observation of Transport Department (TD), traffic is also quite busy at noon time on Saturdays, and this may cause delays to the traffic from the exit of Aberdeen Tunnel to Wang Nai Chung Road.

     My replies to the three parts of the question are as follows:

(a) According to latest information from the TD, the peak periods of the Aberdeen Tunnel exit towards the road section at the interchange between Wong Nai Chung Road and Queen's Road East are normally from 7 am to 9 am during weekdays and from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturday.  During these peak periods, the average throughput is around 900 vehicles per hour.  Since non-peak periods cover most of day time and night time, and traffic throughput varies significantly during different periods, it is difficult to state a representative average throughput figure.

(b) The proposed South Island Line (SIL) (East), West Island Line (WIL) and Central - Wan Chai Bypass (CWB) will play an important role in relieving road traffic congestion along road sections of many busy districts on Hong Kong Island.

     The SIL (East) will provide a fast, convenient and reliable means of public transport between South Horizons and Admiralty.  It will bring about significant transport and economic benefits to the community when completed.  At present, travelling by road-based transport from South Horizons to Admiralty takes about 25 to 45 minutes during rush hours.  It will take about 9 minutes on SIL (East) in future.  Upon completion, the railway is expected to divert 7% of peak hour traffic from the Aberdeen Tunnel to railway, and will help reduce road traffic volume during peak periods, including the traffic flow of Aberdeen Tunnel and its link roads.   It will also provide an alternative option for commuters.    

     The examination of the SIL (East) project is at the final stage.  We will spare no efforts in completing the remaining work on assessment of the project proposal.  We expect that the project will be gazetted in mid-2009 for formal commencement of statutory consultation and the process of resolving objections.  Construction of SIL (East) is expected to start in 2011 for commissioning by 2015.  We will continue to press ahead with the project for early construction and completion in compliance with the statutory procedures.  

     The WIL will provide a fast, convenient and reliable means of public transport between Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town.  It will extend the MTR network to Kennedy Town to enable residents in the Western District to have direct access to MTR service, saving time for interchange from road transport to the railway network.  Upon commissioning of WIL, we expect that some passengers currently using road-base transport modes will switch to this new railway line.  This will help ease the traffic pressure on various major roads on Hong Kong Island.  

     The CWB, which provides a trunk road connecting the eastern and western parts of Hong Kong Island, will divert part of the cross-district traffic away from other east-west roads in Central and Wan Chai, such as the Connaught Road Central/Harcourt Road/Gloucester Road Corridor, Hennessy Road and Queen's Road East.  The traffic burden on these roads will therefore be eased and traffic congestion along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island significantly relieved.  Upon completion of CWB, junctions along Hennessy Road and Queen's Road East will have more spare capacity in meeting traffic needs in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay which will indirectly help improve the traffic flow of Aberdeen Tunnel northbound.  We are seeking funding allocation from the Legislative Council for this project.  Subject to approval of funding, we plan to commence construction work in end-2009.

     We will continue to monitor closely the overall traffic situation of Hong Kong Island, and study feasible long-term measures to further improve our road networks and alleviate traffic congestion.

(c) As for short-term measures, TD's Hong Kong Area Traffic Control Centre has put in place specific arrangements for traffic light signals around the interchange between Wong Nai Chung Road and Queen's Road East during peak periods.  Besides, road traffic condition is constantly monitored by the closed circuit television system, with traffic signal phasings suitably adjusted in response to changes in traffic condition as well as traffic needs, so as to prevent traffic queues from extending to the Aberdeen Tunnel as far as possible.  A Journey Time Indication System has also been installed at Canal Road Flyover northbound near the exit of Aberdeen Tunnel to display the estimated journey time to Kowloon via the three road harbour crossings. The information helps motorists to estimate the time required for travelling to the destination, and the congestion situation ahead, thus enabling them to choose an optimum driving route and avoid entering the congested section as far as possible.

      TD will also continue to work with the Police in monitoring closely the traffic condition in the area and formulate appropriate traffic improvement measures.  In the event of ad hoc incidents or accidents, the Emergency Transport Co-ordination Centre of TD will monitor the traffic condition of Aberdeen Tunnel and its connecting road network closely.  The Centre will liaise with the Police, franchise bus companies and the tunnel operator as needed, and implement such contingency measures as diversion of routes for franchise buses and public light buses, with a view to resuming normal traffic and transport service as soon as possible.  The Centre will also disseminate emergency traffic information to the public through mass media and other channels.

Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:18


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