After nearly nine years of construction work, the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, designed to ease traffic congestion on Hong Kong Island, is set to partially open to the public later this month.
Marking the first phase, the eastbound portion of the 4.5 km alternative road, which connects the Rumsey Street Flyover in Central with the Island Eastern Corridor and cost HK$36 billion to build, will be commissioned on Jan. 20, according to a government press release.
As preparations get underway, authorities have to sought to dismiss concerns regarding water seepage problem reportedly observed in an underwater tunnel.
Of the 4.5 km stretch of the bypass that is set to open, as much as 3.7 km is covered by a tunnel, and reports have said that water was seen dripping from the ceiling at some sections.
On Sunday, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said there is nothing to worry, and that small amount of water seepage is normal in such projects.
The underwater tunnel is safe, the official insisted, while attending a ceremony to flag off the “Community Chest 50th Anniversary Walk for Millions” event.
The event, whose starting ceremony was also officiated by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and Beijing’s liaison office chief Wang Zhimin, drew about 20,000 participants.
During the walk, participants started from Edinburgh Place in Central and walked 5.3 km, including on the bypass, to finish at the Oil Street in North Point, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
While some participants claimed they saw water stains on some parts of the ceiling and walls of the underwater tunnel, Chan explained that what people may have perceived as “cracks” on the ceiling was actually fire-retardant paint.
According to the transport chief, seepage in a small amount is not uncommon in tunnels, and concrete is also not totally waterproof.
The official stressed that the tunnel has a drainage system in place, RTHK reported.
The bypass wouldn’t be opened unless engineers are convinced it is absolutely safe, Chan added.
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