Officials expect to unveil a master plan for underground malls in four key Hong Kong districts by the end of 2017.
These are Tsim Sha Tsui West, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley and Admiralty/Wan Chai.
A public consultation will be launched later this year after initial studies were completed in 2015, Apple Daily reports, citing the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD).
The project will provide more commercial, cultural and entertainment facilities and improve access to the four districts, CEDD chief geotechnical engineer Ho Ying-kit said.
Also, it will ease traffic congestion in Tsim Sha Tsui where pedestrian walkways are limited and improve vehicular access to Haiphong Road by bringing foot traffic below ground.
The government mooted the plan in 2014.
It includes underground passageways connecting Causeway Bay and Wan Chai North and between Tsim Sha Tsui and Jordan and the north and south sections of Wan Chai.
Ho said there are outstanding issues such as the length of the underground walkways and whether these should include cultural and commercial facilities.
He cited successful underground projects in major cities such as Montreal which boasts a 50-year-old, 32-kilometer passageway capable of handling 500,000 people daily.
The Montreal subway connects ten railway stations and 63 buildings, Ho said.
In Japan, a similar subterranean city thrives under Tokyo’s Yaechika district, home to some of the capital’s biggest malls.
Ho said these underground cities are safe from congestion, pollution and extreme weather.
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