LCQ18: Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link and Tuen Mun Western Bypass

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Che-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (November 23):
     The Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) under construction consists of the Southern Connection and the Northern Connection, with construction works of the former to be completed in tandem with the commissioning of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and those of the latter estimated to be completed within 2018. The proposed Tuen Mun Western Bypass (TMWB) will connect Kong Sham Western Highway in the north, Tsing Tin Road and Tuen Mun Road in the middle as well as TM-CLKL in the south. While the planning for TMWB has started 10 years ago, its alignment has yet to be confirmed and, therefore, no definite date has been set for its commissioning. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the planning and study carried out by the authorities for the TMWB project since its formulation (set out in a table by date in chronological order), as well as its final works schedule;
(2) of the criteria based on which the authorities will implement the final proposal for the alignment of TMWB;
(3) given that construction works of TMWB will not be completed when TM-CLKL is commissioned, whether the authorities have assessed (i) the additional traffic volume for various roads in Tuen Mun, and (ii) the increase in vehicle/capacity ratio of such roads, which will be brought about by the commissioning of TM-CLKL; if they have assessed and the outcome shows that some of the roads will be saturated, of the proposals in place to relieve traffic congestion; and
(4) how the traffic volumes in Northwest New Territories and Lantau estimated during the initial planning of TM-CLKL and TMWB compare with the current traffic volumes in those areas?

     My consolidated reply to Hon Leung Che-cheung's question is as follows:
     In July 2007, the Government briefed the LegCo Panel on Transport on the outcome of the Northwest New Territories Traffic and Infrastructure Review and proposed the construction of the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) and the Tuen Mun Western Bypass (TMWB) to meet the anticipated traffic needs of the area.
     The investigation and preliminary design for the TMWB commenced in August 2008 and public consultation was conducted soon afterwards. Having consulted the Tuen Mun District Council, the Yuen Long District Council, the Heung Yee Kuk and the relevant rural committees, the Highways Department (HyD) suggested implementing the "Tuen Mun Road option" based on the consolidated views of relevant stakeholders and the research of different alignment options. Its alignment is made up of tunnels and viaducts. The southern tunnel will connect to TM-CLKL with a portal in the north at Tsing Tin Interchange, connecting to a proposed dual two-lane viaduct alongside Tuen Mun Road. The viaduct will then span over Lam Tei Interchange and run further north along Castle Peak Road connecting to Kong Sham Western Highway near Yick Yuen. The relevant alignment is at Annex 1.
     The HyD conducted the preliminary design and associated assessments on the alignment of the "Tuen Mun Road option" in 2011, which was completed in 2013. During 2011 to mid-2012, some locals expressed strong objections to the project as they worried that the northern viaduct section and the portal of the southern tunnel section at Tsing Tin Interchange would have an adverse impact on the residents in the vicinity. 
     Based on the most updated traffic forecast at that time and having regard to the views of the local community, the HyD comprehensively reviewed the design of the TMWB and presented the proposed revised alignment of TMWB, which connects Tuen Mun Area 40 with Tsing Tin Road (see Annex 2), to the Tuen Mun District Council in March 2015. Having considered the comments of the Tuen Mun District Council on the revised alignment, its portal and design, and the latest development planning for Northwest New Territories, the HyD further reviewed the TMWB project and further consulted the Tuen Mun District Council, Yuen Long District Council and Ha Tsuen Rural Committee in July and September 2016 on the latest proposed alignment (see Annex 3). Under this alignment, the project will connect TM-CLKL with Kong Sham Western Highway with a provision of a connection to Tsing Tin Road en route. As this consists of quite a substantial revision as compared to the "Tuen Mun Road option", the Government has to conduct an investigation study so as to ensure a proper balance among factors such as technical feasibility, traffic functions, environmental concerns and impact on stakeholders, etc. with a view to taking forward the project. The Tuen Mun District Council, Yuen Long District Council and Ha Tsuen Rural Committee do not have objection to conducting the investigation study based on this latest alignment as proposed by the Government. The HyD is making preparation for the investigation study which is expected to take two years.  Subject to the results of the investigation study, we will seek resources to conduct the detailed design and other works.
     According to the original plan, the completion time of the Southern Connection of TM-CLKL is to tie in with the commissioning of the Main Bridge of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge whereas the Northern Connection is targeted for completion in end 2018. However, due to technical difficulties encountered, the construction programme is very tight. It is believed that the above target completion date cannot be met. The HyD is closely monitoring the work progress to overcome the technical difficulties and will endeavour to catch up with the progress. The HyD will carry out a comprehensive review on the commissioning date for the TM-CLKL.
     According to the latest traffic study conducted by the Transport Department (TD), upon the commissioning of the TM-CLKL, the traffic demand of the busier major road sections in Tuen Mun, including Tuen Mun Road (Town Centre Section) and the slip road connecting to Wong Chu Road, would remain acceptable until 2026. The TD will closely monitor the traffic demand and changes in the traffic conditions of the road network of Tuen Mun, and will formulate traffic management measures, such as junction widening works for road sections prone to traffic congestion, changes to traffic signal control, implementation of traffic diversion measures, etc., in a timely manner.

     Since the population growth and land development of the Northwest New Territories and Lantau Island have generally been slower than projected when the TM-CLKL and TMWB were first planned, the current traffic volumes are lower than those then projected. The table below compares the traffic projections of 2016 in the report to the LegCo Panel on Transport in July 2007 on the outcome of the Northwest New Territories Traffic and Infrastructure Review and the actual traffic volumes of the "Annual Traffic Census 2015" (Note 1) of the TD.
Major Roads Volume/Capacity (V/C) ratio (Note 2)
Traffic projections of 2016 under the
Northwest New Territories Traffic and Infrastructure Review conducted in 2007
Actual traffic volumes under the "Annual Traffic Census 2015"
Tuen Mun Road (Town Centre Section) 0.9 0.9
Tuen Mun Road (Siu Lam Section) 1.2 1.2
Tuen Mun Road (Sham Tseng Section) 1.2 1.2
Tai Lam Tunnel 1.0 0.8
Ting Kau Bridge 1.2 1.1
Lantau Link 1.2 0.7
North Lantau Highway 1.2 0.6

     Tuen Mun Road (Town Centre Section) and Tai Lam Tunnel are the two major external strategic roads of the Northwest New Territories. The then projected V/C ratio of Tuen Mun Road (Town Centre) was 1.0 by 2021. But according to the latest traffic study of the TD, the projected V/C ratio of the concerned road section is 0.9 by 2021 and will increase to 1.0 by 2026.

Note 1: The traffic data of 2016 is not yet available.
Note 2: V/C ratio is an indication of the traffic conditions of roads during peak hours.  A V/C ratio equals to or less than 1.0 is considered acceptable. A V/C ratio between 1.0 and 1.2 indicates a manageable degree of congestion. A V/C ratio above 1.2 indicates more serious congestion.

Ends/Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:00