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Pedestrians To Rise Above, Pass Under Choking Traffic

Pedestrians to rise above, pass under choking traffic
Underpasses, footbridges planned for congested areas

Anita Lam – SCMP – Updated on Oct 16, 2008

The government has an answer to the problem of pedestrians thronging the narrow footpaths of polluted, traffic-choked Causeway Bay: send the people underground.

And in Mong Kok and Yuen Long town centre, footbridges are to take the people above the traffic.

Announcing the plans in his policy address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen described these as ways to “minimise vehicle-pedestrian conflict”. He said the measures, along with “traffic-calming streets” and pedestrianisation, would improve roadside air quality.

A network of underpasses beneath Causeway Bay is to stretch from Victoria Park to the Happy Valley Racecourse. A government source said the network would provide access to as many buildings, places of entertainment and above-ground shopping malls as possible. The underpasses could also be lined with shops.

The source said the underpass connecting Happy Valley to the heart of Causeway Bay was proposed as an alternative to building a Happy Valley station on the planned South Island MTR line.

An underpass would also to link the Great George Street MTR exit in Causeway Bay to Victoria Park to reduce the crowds flowing down the street during big events such as the Lunar New Year carnival and the New Year’s Eve countdown.

A year-long feasibility study would begin next year, a government source said. It would look at whether the MTR Corporation should build the underpasses. Meanwhile officials will study their routing.

In Mong Kok, a footbridge system now linking the MTR’s Mong Kok East station to Fa Yuen Street and Tung Choi Street is to be extended to central Mong Kok and the growing residential developments of Tai Kok Tsui. A similar network would link the Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long to Yuen Long town centre.

“When we know which buildings the underpass will pass through, we will contact their developers and invite ideas, such as how they would like the tunnels to be developed,” the source said.

The government would seek tenders from consultants to conduct a feasibility study for construction of the Causeway Bay underpass network early next year, the source said.

Meanwhile, the Transport and Housing Bureau will invest HK$950 million to install and repair more than 780 lifts and escalators in housing estates more than 30 years old.

The Housing Department is studying the feasibility of installing lifts and escalators connecting common areas in public-housing estates on hillside sites. It will also explore installing lifts in walk-up, low-rise public-housing blocks.

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