GEORGE TOWN, April 15 — The Department of Environment (DoE) has approved the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the state’s proposed Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1), a highway under its ambitious Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow announced today that the state won the conditional approval from the DoE on April 10.
“The state considers it a major milestone achieved towards enabling the project to move on the ground,” he said in a press conference at his office in Komtar this morning.
According to the DoE’s approval letter, it received the EIA report dated January 2 and put it through detailed scrutiny, review and deliberation at the EIA Technical Review Committee.
The report was found to fulfil all requirements under Section 34A (2) of the Environment Quality Act 1974, the department concluded.
Chow said following the technical review, a revised EIA report was submitted to the DoE by the consultant through the state on March 22 and it was approved with 56 conditions.
He said related government agencies may now seek other necessary approvals for the state to commence construction of the highway by the middle of next year.
“With this EIA approval, we can move on to obtaining detailed design, land acquisition and appointing contractors for the project through open tender,” he said.
He said the state is still chasing approvals for the Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) and Penang South Reclamation (PSR) projects, both under the PTMP.
Chow said the construction cost for the highway is estimated to be around RM7 billion.
On financing for the highway, Chow said the funding module for the PTMP is dependent on PSR, but with the latter still pending, it will still need bridging finance.
He said project delivery partner SRS Consortium and the state will both provide bridging finance to pay for the construction costs.
“We will listen to proposals from interested parties to look into the financing aspect of the project,” he said, adding that various corporations have shown interest in PTMP over the years.
He said the funding structure for the project is vital to put the approval to use.
The PIL1 is a 19.5km highway that will form a second north-south spine road to improve traffic congestion on Penang island and will consist of 7.6km of viaduct sections, four tunnel sections totalling 10.1km in length and embankment sections totalling 1.8km.
PIL1, which links Gurney Drive to Bayan Lepas, will have six interchanges connecting all major hubs.
It will integrate with the north coastal paired road, Gurney Drive paired road, Air Itam and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway Bypass, first and second Penang bridge, proposed third link and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.
Work on the project is expected to start in July 2020 and is expected to complete by June 2026.
Other components for the PTMP project such as the LRT and PSR are still pending approval this Thursday during the National Physical Planning Council.
Chow said he is hopeful of positive news then and promised to immediately reveal approvals obtained from the federal government.
The Penang civil society has been protesting against the PIL1 and PSR, citing environmental concerns.
The groups have also called for the PTMP to be reviewed to include more public transportation systems.