One lane of Hiram’s Highway will be closed on 16 and 17 July, according to Barry Hill, a leader of the Berkeley Villas Residents’ Association, who meets monthly with Meinhardt, designers and project managers of Stage One of the highway expansion. The reason for the closure of one lane is diversion of a water main. Berkeley Villas is an estate by the Ho Chung River near the new bridge.
Barry, a former MTR engineer, explained how Stage One’s construction will proceed as it heads for expected completion in the second half of 2020. Today a two-lane section of the new bridge can be seen as you drive by. It is expected to be completed in November with tarmac laid and all traffic will be diverted onto its two lanes. Then the old bridge will be demolished and two big trees by the river on the Ho Chung side chain-sawed into history. Removal of the old bridge allows the contractors to get on with building the bridge’s second half. Construction works for the loop road around Ho Chung Road to Luk Mei Tuen Road will be carried out. Traffic on Ho Chung Road will be diverted onto Luk Mei Tsuen Road early next year.
The construction of the second half of the bridge “is a big piece of work that will last through 2019 and into 2020”. During this time two-way traffic will be running on the new bridge. A large footbridge that has attracted criticism because of over-design (it has lift shafts either side of the road) will be built in parallel. Friends of Sai Kung and the Berkeley residents wanted a less obtrusive underpass. They also criticised the fact the new bridge will have a bus stop on it resulting in an even wider structure.
Barry said all preliminary work for the building of a dual carriageway past Marina Cove to the finish of Stage One at Pak Wai is complete. Two lanes will be built behind the Marina Cove hoardings lining the road. Next year when these lanes are completed traffic will move onto them.
When the Stage One dual carriageway is finished traffic “will hurtle along it, so Stage Two needs to start as soon as possible and it will,” Barry said. Despite their monthly meetings, Meinhardt has not told the Berkeley residents about the progress of Stage Two’s design. It is much more difficult than Stage Two, Barry said, especially near Hebe Haven. He estimated Stage Two’s progress through many Government departments, finance approval, Legislative Council and the procurement process will take two or three years. Then construction will require about six years.
BUZZ quipped older residents will not see completion of Hiram’s Highway expansion into Sai Kung town in their lifetimes.
For previous stories on the bridge see http://saikungbuzz.hk/2016/06/chainsaws-threaten-1500-trees-as-contractors-gear-up-to-widen-hirams-highway