RM1.8bil elevated highway set to ease traffic

BUTTERWORTH: For years, the stretch of the North-South Expressway (NSE) from Juru to the Sungai Dua toll plaza was a notorious bottleneck for motorists heading to Penang or travelling between Perak and Kedah.

But that will change when the proposed RM1.8bil Juru-Sungai Dua Elevated Highway project is completed at the Juru Interchange on the mainland.

Deputy Works Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan said the 15km elevated highway will ease traffic congestion at the bottleneck.

“We can already see ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ at this stage."

The state made a request to the Federal Government for the project and PLUS presented a proposal to the Public-Private Partnership Unit (of the Prime Minister’s Department) in February.

“Discussions are under way and once everything is finalised, the next step is seeking Cabinet approval,” he told reporters after opening the Urban Road Seminar @ Penang 2024 organised by the Road Engineering Association Malaysia here yesterday.

It was reported that the project is necessary to address severe congestion along the NSE and at the signalised Jalan Kebun Nenas-Jalan Perusahaan T-junction.Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow was quoted as saying that the dedicated bypass from Juru to Sungai Dua toll project would be a long-term traffic dispersal plan.

He said the project should be modelled after the Ipoh Selatan-Jelapang stretch, which separates traffic between the expressway and slip road to Ipoh city.

Ahmad said: “If Pak Lah (former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) is remembered for the second Penang Bridge during his tenure, then I hope the current Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) will be remembered for this project.”

Chow, who was also present, said Anwar had himself experienced the traffic congestion during a trip in February.

“We travelled from Permatang Pauh to Batu Kawan to launch an industrial park project during peak hour.“The matter was raised again in April.

The Public Works Depart-ment with other agencies then conducted surveys at the section,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ahmad said as of May this year, 14,797 road damage complaints was received since the MyJalan application was launched last August.

He said based on statistics as of December 2022, the country had a road network of 279,863km with 20,133km being federal roads, 259,730 km state roads and the remaining belonging to five private agencies.In 2023, Ahmad said JKR had allocated RM217.8mil to upgrading road safety infrastructure through the MyJalan campaign.

As of April this year, a total of RM55,715,391 was spent on the management of roads in Penang.