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Traffic Concerns Over New Tower In Taikoo Shing

Residents fear more air pollution

Anita Lam – SCMP – Updated on Apr 21, 2008

Residents and workers in Taikoo Shing are bracing for more traffic and increased pollution – from a new office tower in the area.

The 70-storey One Island East, which opened on April 1, will bring an average of 650 more vehicles an hour into the area when most of the tenants move in this summer, according to estimates by developer Swire Properties.

District councillors and residents fear that the traffic – three times more than before the Quarry Bay landmark was developed – will clog the narrow streets, causing more noise and dust.

The company’s head of public affairs, Miranda Szeto, admitted the tower – already 87 per cent leased – would attract more cars and pedestrians to the area. But the impact would be much less than the figures suggested, she said.

“The extra traffic will be mostly private vehicles, not trucks or cargo vans as it used to be,” she said, referring to traffic flow at the two industrial buildings that were demolished to make way for the tower. “And the extra cars will be diverted among various roads within the area … it’s not like they will all jam into one street at a particular moment.”

Westlands Road, which leads to the tower, has already been changed to more clearly direct drivers and allow smoother traffic flow.

But Eastern District councillor Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, a long-time resident in the area, and his neighbours were worried much of the increased traffic would come from the Island Eastern Corridor through Taikoo Wan Road, bringing more noise and dust.

“Swire said vehicles would be encouraged to drive to the corridor through Hoi Tai Street on the harbourfront, but drivers tend to pick the shortest route to their destinations, and that is Taikoo Wan Road.”

Meanwhile, people who drive to work at Taikoo Place were worried that finding a parking space would become more difficult. As One Island East does not have its own car park, drivers would have to use the car parks under Taikoo Place.

But Ms Szeto said the number of parking spaces was adequate. Figures showed that of the 1,300 spaces available, only about 70 per cent were used.

The Transport Department said Swire had not provided figures on the traffic implications of the new office tower, but a government engineer said roads in the district should be able to cope for the next five years.

One Island East, however, is the first of a number of developments expected to add to the congestion in the next few years. The 350-room Cityplaza Hotel on Taikoo Shing Road is expected to open next year.

Swire is also seeking to redevelop three office blocks at Taikoo Place – Somerset, Cornwall and Warwick houses – into two skyscrapers.

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