LCQ4: Traffic situation in North District

     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Dr Raymond So Wai-man, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):
     On the 23rd of last month, several traffic accidents happened successively at Fanling Highway near Kai Leng Roundabout and Tai Tau Leng Roundabout, leading to severe congestion on the relevant sections of Fanling Highway, So Kwun Po Road, San Wan Road, Po Shek Wu Road, Jockey Club Road and Lung Sum Avenue during afternoon rush hours from 4pm to 8pm, which in turn caused serious inconvenience to members of the public commuting to and from the North District.  Regarding the traffic congestion in the North District, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether, in the past three years, the Police and the Transport Department studied the causes for the rise in the number of traffic accidents which happened at Fanling Highway from 83 in 2012 to 146 in 2016, and reviewed the follow-up actions taken and temporary traffic arrangements made after traffic accidents had happened in the North District, including whether sufficient manpower and resources had been deployed, whether the duration of traffic congestion could be shortened, and what improvement measures could be implemented; if they conducted such a study and review, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) of the progress of the various ongoing traffic improvement works in the North District (including works to add a southbound lane in the section of carriageway of Sha Tau Kok Road between Ma Sik Road and Sui Wan Road, widen and improve several busy junctions along Sha Tau Kok Road near Fanling Centre, and add southbound lanes in Po Shek Wu Road and So Kwun Po Road); and
(3) given the serious problem of illegal parking in the vicinity of Shek Wu Hui, which has given rise to severe traffic congestion on Kai Leng Roundabout and other trunk roads within the district whenever traffic accidents happen in the district, of the authorities' measures to improve the situation?

Acting President,
     My reply to the various parts of the Hon Lau Kwok-fan's question is as follows.
(1) The traffic accident rate on Fanling Highway between 2012 and 2016 ranges from 0.30 to 0.46 cases per million vehicle – kilometre, which is lower than that of the territorial average of 1.18 to 1.26 in the corresponding periods.  According to records, these accidents on Fanling Highway were mostly of minor nature and the contributory factors were largely driver-related, including driving inattentively and driving too close to vehicle in front etc.
     Although the traffic accident rate is not high, the Transport Department (TD) has noted that whenever a traffic accident occurred in the vicinity of Kai Leng Roundabout or Tai Tau Leng Roundabout, resulting in the obstruction of major road junctions, and that there was no swift clearance at the site of the accident, there would be severe traffic congestion in the North District.
     In view of the traffic situation in the North District in the past few years, the TD has, since last year, implemented a host of measures, including prohibiting construction vehicles from using district roads during morning and afternoon peak periods on weekdays.  Meanwhile, the TD has been paying particular attention to planning applications for developments in the area.  If the Traffic Impact Assessment Study of the relevant application indicated that the concerned development might cause significant impact on local traffic, the TD would propose to the Town Planning Board to consider amending or rejecting the application unless the applicant could come up with and implement the necessary traffic improvement measures.  In addition, the TD, the Police and franchised bus companies have drawn up contingency measures and diversion schemes for implementation in the event of traffic accidents on roads near Tai Tau Leng Roundabout and Kai Leng Roundabout.
     Police's information indicates that a total of 11 traffic accidents or incidents happened successively at roads including Tai Tau Leng Roundabout, Jockey Club Road, Fan Kam Road, Po Shek Wu Road and San Wan Road, within four hours or so during the evening peak period on November 23 this year (locations at Annex).  The rather unusual situation posed serious challenges to the Police in their deployment of manpower on that day, resulting in difficulties in implementing traffic diversion schemes in a timely manner to divert vehicles.  As traffic congestion can be effectively relieved if site clearance and traffic diversion are done swiftly after traffic accidents or incidents, the Police will enhance the training of frontline staff on handling traffic accident to improve efficiency.  In addition, the Police will implement interim measures shortly to monitor the road situation at roundabouts in nearby areas with a view to speeding up actions to tackle unforeseen incidents. 
     On traffic management measures, the TD will improve the road markings at So Kwun Po Road where vehicles enter Kai Leng Roundabout so as to improve drivers' visibility, thus reducing the occurrence of traffic accidents.  Besides, to avoid congestion at road junctions, the TD proposes to add yellow boxes at various locations in the district (including the junction at Pak Wo Road/Wo Hing Road, the junction at San Wan Road/Jockey Club Road and the junction at Sha Tau Kok Road/Fanling Station Road).  The TD is consulting the local community through the North District Office.  If feedbacks are positive, the TD will implement the measures promptly.
     Furthermore, the TD and the Police will further enhance the contingency measures to be taken in case multiple traffic accidents happen concurrently on the roads near Tai Tau Leng Roundabout and Kai Leng Roundabout.
     As always, the Emergency Transport Co-ordination Centre (ETCC) of the TD will maintain close communication with the Police and public transport operators, as well as contacting relevant operators immediately to make appropriate arrangements, including route diversions, etc.  The ETCC will also release the latest traffic news and give appropriate advice to the public through the media and mobile applications so as to enable passengers to arrange their journeys accordingly and minimise the impact on passengers.
(2) Various traffic improvement works in the North District are progressively underway.  According to information from the Civil Engineering and Development Department, the works to add a southbound lane on So Kwun Po Road (i.e. Kai Leng Roundabout) and Po Shek Wu Road (i.e. Tai Tau Leng Roundabout) are expected to be completed in mid-2018 and the first quarter of 2019 respectively.  As for the works to add a southbound lane on Sha Tau Kok Road between Ma Sik Road and Sui Wan Road, as well as the improvement works at several junctions along Sha Tau Kok Road near Fanling Centre (the junctions at Jockey Club Road and Lok Yip Road), the expected completion dates fall in the first quarter of 2019.
     Besides, upon completion of both the construction works of connecting road for Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, and the widening of Fanling Highway in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the fourth quarter of 2019 respectively, the traffic congestion in North District will be further alleviated.
     In the long run, the traffic congestion in North District can only be effectively relieved by the development of new roads in an effort to divert traffic flow.  The Government is now proactively following up on a number of new road projects.  Feasibility studies or detailed designs of such projects may commence progressively within the next few years to tie in with the long-term development of North District.
(3) To combat illegal parking in the vicinity of Shek Wu Hui, the TD proposes related traffic management measures, including designating a section of San Wan Road outside North District Town Hall as a 24-hour restricted zone which prohibits loading and unloading activities for vehicles; and extending the duration for the restricted zone at Lung Sum Avenue (the section outside Landmark North).  The TD is now consulting the local community through the North District Office.  It is expected that the measures, once implemented, together with strengthened enforcement actions of the police, will effectively improve the traffic situation on the concerned roads.

Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:55