Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hok-fung and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):
At present, Tung Chung Road is the only road that links North and South Lantau, and South Lantau Road is the only road connecting various places of South Lantau. Any traffic incident on these two roads will have a serious impact on the traffic on Lantau Island. It is learnt that on the 24th of last month, a traffic accident on South Lantau Road paralysed the traffic in the area for nearly four hours. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that some members of the local community have relayed to me that during the consultations conducted on major infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong International Airport and the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands, the Government has promised to synchronise the overall traffic and transport network linking North and South Lantau in order to achieve a win-win situation, but so far the Government has not constructed any new road to connect Tung Chung with Mui Wo and Tai O, whether the Government has given the Islands District Council (IDC) an account of the reasons for not implementing the relevant developments; if so, of the details;
(2) given that last year the Government put forward the proposal to construct "two tunnels and one viaduct" on Lantau Island to connect Mui Wo with Siu Ho Wan and to connect Shek Pik with Tai O Road, etc., of the implementation timetable for the aforesaid proposal, and whether the Government will report the relevant progress to IDC on a regular basis; and
(3) whether it will construct a traffic and transport network linking North and South Lantau and looping around Lantau Island, with Tung Chung as the centre; if so, of the timetable, and whether it has assessed the difficulties that may be encountered in the implementation of such proposal?
The Hon Chan's question expresses concern about the traffic and transport network within Lantau, particularly the North and South Lantau. After consulting the Transport and Logistics Bureau, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) and the Transport Department, I hereby reply as below:
(1) The Government always consulted the Islands District Council (IDC) and other stakeholders regarding development projects around Lantau. For the discussions in recent years, the Development Bureau (DEVB) and the CEDD consulted the IDC in February 2019 about the "Study on the Artificial Islands in the Central Waters" during which it was mentioned that the Government's priority would be taking forward the artificial islands near Kau Yi Chau of around 1 000 hectares. Under the traffic and transport planning supporting the development, the associated strategic road will connect different development areas. Its preliminary alignment will link the Hong Kong Island, the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands, North Lantau and New Territories West, not via South Lantau, which is mainly positioned as a rural and nature conservation spot.
We fully understand that in response to a suggestion in the meeting from District Council member(s) regarding developing road connection between North and South Lantau, the representative of the DEVB responded that the CEDD was conducting the "Study on Traffic, Transport and Capacity to Receive Visitors for Lantau" ("T&T Study"), which would holistically review the traffic needs for road connection within Lantau, in particular the connection between North and South Lantau, and recommend improvement options.
(2) The CEDD completed the T&T Study mentioned above in mid-2022, and reported to the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council, the Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LanDAC) and the Traffic and Transport Committee of the IDC.
The T&T Study pointed out that currently Tung Chung Road was the only road connecting North and South Lantau. As noted by the Member, any serious incident will severely impact the external road traffic of South Lantau. Having considered various factors, especially the resilience of the road network against emergencies, road safety and construction cost, etc., we recommended in the T&T Study to strengthen the traffic infrastructure in East and West Lantau respectively to improve the connection between North and South Lantau. The recommendations include:
(i) construct a new road tunnel connecting Mui Wo in the south and the existing road/tunnel of Discovery Bay in the further north; or
(ii) construct a new road tunnel directly connecting Mui Wo in the south and Siu Ho Wan in the north.
(i) construct a new road tunnel connecting Shek Pik in the south and Tai O in the north; and/or
(ii) provide a viaduct for improving parts of Keung Shan Road with lots of bends and are relatively steep in gradient and narrow, improving the connection between South Lantau and Tai O.
Besides, we also recommended exploring the reuse and improvment of Old Tung Chung Road, which is in the middle part of Lantau. The different recommendations are provided at the Annex of the response.
The CEDD will soon commence the feasibility study in March this year, to further review the feasibility of the above recommendations and select the most suitable combination of options. Tasks include preliminary environmental assessment and ground investigation, etc. The study is expected to complete in mid-2025. During the study, the Government will communicate with stakeholders in a timely manner, including the IDC and LanDAC, to collect views and report technical study findings. Apart from following up on the large scale improvement options, the Government will carry out smaller scale works such as road widening or road bend improvement works in stages at South Lantau Road, Keung Shan Road and Tai O Road, etc.
(3) Most of the southern part of Lantau is of nature conservation value and with road network of rural design. To conserve the tranquil environment of the southern part of Lantau and consider the road capacity of Lantau, roads in South Lantau (including Tung Chung Road, South Lantau Road and Keung Shan Road) are designated as closed roads at present. Access to these roads with vehicles requires a valid "Lantau Closed Road Permit".
Currently, the annual average daily traffic of roads in South Lantau are less than half of their design capacities. Considering that there being quite an extent of spare road capacities and the overarching planning principles of "Development in the North, Conservation in the South" of Lantau, there is insufficient justification for the time being from the traffic flow perspective to support constructing transport infrastructure other than the connection options between North and South Lantau as I mentioned above or a road network round the island of Lantau.
Nonetheless, we hope the recommended options mentioned in Part (2) above could largely improve the connection between North and South Lantau. Therefore, we shall accord priority to the exploration and selection of a feasible and the most suitable combination of options at this stage with a view to taking them forward as soon as possible.
Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:20