LCQ2: Transport infrastructure in Lantau
The target completion date of the Hong Kong section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is the end of 2017. Some residents on Lantau Island have pointed out that in order to capitalise on the development opportunities brought about by the commissioning of the bridge and facilitate the continuous development of Lantau Island, it is imperative that the authorities expeditiously resolve the existing problems of frequent traffic congestion on Lantau Island arising from overloading of roads and insufficient transport infrastructure facilities. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether, to tie in with the development of Lantau Island, the authorities will accord priority to road improvement projects on the island, including the construction of a trunk road linking north and south Lantau, so as to enhance the connection among the various parts of the island and alleviate the traffic burden on Tung Chung Road and South Lantau Road;
(2) whether it has plans to improve the road traffic network in the vicinity of tourist attractions on Lantau Island, including expeditiously completing the road widening projects at Keung Shan Road connecting Tai O and Ngong Ping, and conducting a study on the construction of a coastal highway in north Lantau connecting Tai O and Tung Chung, etc, with a view to improving the external transport services of areas such as Tai O, etc; if so, of the details; and
(3) whether it will draw reference to overseas practices and construct a regional elevated monorail system on Lantau Island, so as to alleviate the existing traffic congestion occurring frequently on the Airport Island and in Tung Chung town centre, and to provide residents and visitors in Tung Chung with more convenient and efficient transport infrastructure facilities?
At present, the developments of north Lantau mainly include infrastructure and tourism facilities such as Tung Chung New Town, the Hong Kong International Airport and the Hong Kong Disneyland. North Lantau Highway, Tsing Ma Bridge and the Tung Chung Line and Airport Express of the Mass Transit Railway are the main external transport links. The development of south Lantau, on the other hand, focuses mainly on conservation. South Lantau is linked with north Lantau and other places on Lantau Island by Tung Chung Road, South Lantau Road and Tai O Road (see the road network in Appendix 1).
To tie in with the commissioning of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), the Government has made plans for the overall transport network to cope with the additional traffic flow. Vehicles connecting to the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF) of the HZMB can use the new access road leading to the Hong Kong International Airport or the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) to travel to the urban area or the New Territories. The Highways Department (HyD) assessed earlier that the southern section of TM-CLKL would not be completed by end-2017. Vehicles travelling to the HKBCF of the HZMB during the transition period would be routed through Airport Road and North Lantau Highway without going through Tung Chung City Centre. Therefore, there will be no direct impact on the traffic within the Tung Chung City Centre.
The preliminary development strategy for Lantau Island put forward by the Development Bureau and the Lantau Development Advisory Committee in January this year has proposed that the North Lantau Corridor will mainly focus on strategic economic and housing developments, whereas the north-eastern part of Lantau will develop into a node for leisure, entertainment and tourism. A study will also be undertaken for developing the East Lantau Metropolis into a core business district, while other parts of Lantau Island will be used for conservation, leisure, cultural and green tourism. The future transport infrastructure will tie in with the planning of relevant development.
My reply to the various parts of the Hon Holden Chow's question is as follows:
(1) According to the observations of the Transport Department (TD), traffic flow on the roads on Lantau Island is currently smooth in general, and traffic congestion is infrequent (see Appendix 2). The roads of south Lantau, including South Lantau Road and Tai O Road, etc., are closed roads, the use of which is restricted to vehicles issued with a valid closed road permit. Currently, the traffic volumes of the roads in south Lantau are also low, and traffic congestion is rare (see Appendix 3). The TD has been closely monitoring the use of roads in south Lantau. Where necessary and practicable, the TD will carry out appropriate improvement works in conjunction with the HyD. In 2009, for example, the HyD completed the widening works for Tung Chung Road and has since significantly improved traffic flow between the north and south of Lantau.
(2) In recent years, the HyD has completed many road bend improvement projects on the roads of south Lantau, including different locations on Keung Shan Road and South Lantau Road, with a view to further ensuring safe and smooth driving. As at November this year, the HyD has completed ten road bend improvement projects on Keung Shan Road and four such projects on South Lantau Road, while striving to complete the seven remaining ones for completion by the end of next year.
In addition, the TD has been monitoring the traffic demand in Tai O and considering whether there is a need to construct a coastal road linking Tai O to Tung Chung. However, in view of insufficient traffic demand as well as environmental and conservation concerns, and the fact that Tung Chung Road can cope with the traffic between the south and north of Lantau, we do not consider there is sufficient justification to support the construction of such road at this moment.
The Government will generally plan transport infrastructure in the light of district development. Apart from north and northeast Lantau, the rest of Lantau Island is mainly used for conservation and recreation purposes and no large-scale development is recommended. Therefore, whether there is a need to construct a coastal road linking Tai O to Tung Chung depends on the overall development plan, timetable, the expected traffic demand and other factors.
(3) According to the TD's observation, although the loading and unloading points near Tung Chung railway station are busy during peak hours, the traffic on all roads in Tung Chung City Centre, Chek Lap Kok South Road and Airport Island is smooth. There are a number of franchised bus routes to and from Tung Chung City Centre, Airport Island and all districts in Hong Kong to cater for the daily needs of the public.
The Civil Engineering and Development Department is making preparations for the setting up of the Sustainable Lantau Office, which will be tasked with taking forward and managing the development scheme for Lantau, including conducting an overall traffic and transport study for Lantau in early 2017 for targeted completion in mid-2018. The study mainly covers the ways to improve traffic in Lantau, such as traffic network from Tung Chung Town Centre to Airport Island, feasibility of a coastal road from Tung Chung to Tai O and a trunk road connecting the north and south of Lantau, etc. The local community and stakeholders will be consulted during the study. The proposal of a regional elevated monorail system for Lantau may be explored in the study.
The Development Bureau and the Planning Department are undertaking the study "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards A Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030", which will cover two strategic growth areas in East Lantau Metropolis and north New Territories respectively. A six-month public consultation exercise is being conducted from October this year under the study. The Transport and Housing Bureau has been involved in the planning of transport infrastructure in the study and will launch a strategic study for railways and major trunk roads beyond 2030, examining the transport infrastructure required for the planning and development of Lantau, north-west New Territories and north New Territories to cope with traffic needs so generated, in response to the livelihood needs of the public. Railways and strategic roads are transport infrastructure requiring immense investment and must therefore be justified in terms of overall development needs as well as social and economic benefits. The Government's transport infrastructure planning objective is that transport infrastructure and development projects should go in parallel so as to make the best use of public resource.
Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:46
Issued at HKT 15:46