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“Hiram’s Highway Improvement” – Stage 1 – 4½ years of major traffic disruption has already started

by Guy Shirra

The widening of Hiram’s Highway has already started. This promises 4½ years of major traffic disruption. Here are my thoughts on what’s happening, and what’s proposed for the future. The Stage 1 proposals are split into three parts:

Part I – widening of the downhill section of Hiram’s Highway from Clearwater Bay Road is a good idea. However, Highways Dept are now preparing additional demolition work beside the existing uphill carriageway. This did not form part of the original approved Stage 1 work and will involve felling many mature trees planted not long ago. It is understood that this work is merely to comply with a bureaucratic standard and it has not been the subject of any public consultation.

Part II – “improving” access to Ho Chung – an alternative proposal made in 2009 for a one way system around Ho Chung old and new villages ignored – is a bad idea

Part III – widening of Hiram’s Highway across Ho Chung River past Marina Cove ending with a new roundabout at Pak Wai is a complete and utter waste of money. Unless of course this, and the widened Luk Mei Tsuen Road linked to it, is purely to provide improved access for development of the west side of the highway. But who by? And for what? Start-up homes for young married couples? Dream on…

hh-1.jpg

Two trees by the Ho Chung Bridge will be felled once they start construction of the new bridge
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1,100 trees have been felled alongside Marina Cove. This plastic awning is a tasteful replacement

 

Traffic jam on Hiram’s Highway, Marina Cove. China State stopped traffic for ½ hour on 19 July

SK Buzz HH Stage 1 Article 24July17-1

The way things used to be; three photos before they felled 1,100 trees for Stage 1 “Improvement”

How will this Stage 1 scheme ease traffic flow into Sai Kung Town? It might ease it for Marina Cove residents and any new developments opposite. But for the rest of us and visitors to Sai Kung Town? Forget it…

Question: Why, since this hair-brained scheme’s inception in 2009, has absolutely nothing been done to improve traffic flow on Hiram’s Highway with a clearway, lay-bys for buses and minibuses, turn-right lanes for all side roads and developments etc?

Answer: Because the Transport and Highways departments and the silently acquiescent Sai Kung District Office and Council and NT East’s nine elected but disinterested LegCo councillors, are hoping that by doing nothing, they will convince you that only their scheme will solve the problem. “Hiram’s Highway needs a dual carriageway all the way to our friends’ new developments in Sai Kung; nothing else will do” they might well say. However, Carrie Lam, our new Chief Executive, has publicly stated on RTHK: “The new administration will work harder to reach out to the community and listen to people’s concerns” and “You really have to think out of the box and to identify other ways to do the same thing, instead of doing it time and again in the same manner.”

So perhaps, just perhaps, they might eventually listen to reason. In the meantime, get ready for 4½½ years of traffic disruption and then new traffic jams towards Sai Kung Town at Pak Wai. And be warned – the environmental disaster around the Highway at Ho Chung is just a small glimpse of what Highways Dept have in mind for you all the way to Sai Kung. Read more about their plans for Stage 2 – Widening Hiram’s Highway all the way into Sai Kung Town – next week in Sai Kung Buzz.

Watch this space…

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