Legislative Council Panel on Transport
Improvement to Tuen Mun Road


This paper provides supplementary information on -

  1. details relating to the works for the improvement to Tuen Mun Road;
  2. policy implications and possible impact of the mediation outcome on existing contracts;
  3. mediation considerations; and
  4. need for the remaining climbing lane at Tai Lam.


2. At the meeting of the Transport Panel held on 23 October 1996, Members, after considering an earlier paper (Ref : CB(1)142/96-97(04)), asked to further discuss the captioned subject at the next Panel meeting on 29 November 1996 and requested supplementary information.

Details of Works

3. After the rockfall incident in August 1995, we have been negotiating with the Contractor on ways to complete the works. Works at the disputed sections of Sam Shing Hui and So Kwun Wat were later completed in February 1996 under a supplemental agreement. These were made possible following a major temporary traffic arrangement which involved the closure of two lanes of the Kowloon bound carriageway to provide a safe buffer zone for the slope cutting works, and the construction of an additional temporary lane in the central reserve. The remaining road width including the central reserve was fully utilised and surfaced to provide three Kowloon bound and two Tuen Mun bound lanes. The works were completed through more extensive use of rock-splitting chemical agents and additional resources were provided to accelerate completion of the programme. The Contractor has since submitted a claim of $40M to cover the costs of the additional works, traffic diversions and programme acceleration. The original costs under contract for Sam Shing Hui and So Kwun Wat were respectively $54M and $39M. Pursuant to the Mediator’s Decision, the additional works were carried out under a deemed Variation Order for which the Contractor is entitled to additional payment under the Contract. Highways Department is currently assessing this claim.

4. With regard to the remaining section at Tai Lam, we had had preliminary discussions with the Contractor about a possible feasibility study on alternative alignments until February 1996 when the Contractor referred the dispute on the "impossibility claim" to mediation. We have now arranged for an independent consultancy firm to undertake the feasibility study. The findings should be available by April 1997 and will provide us with a preliminary design of the optimal scheme and a more realistic estimate of cost and time for its completion. Thereafter, we will consider how best to take this project forward.

Policy Implications and Possible Impact on Existing Contracts

5. There may well be lessons to be learned from the mediator’s ruling. However, we do not anticipate that it will affect other contracts. Every claim would require to be assessed on the merits of its own particular facts and circumstances. The Tuen Mun Road case was decided on very particular and unusual facts which do not occur in the general run of our works contracts. The Secretary for Works has already written to the works departments alerting them to the problem.

6. The Secretary for Works has also set up a working group to review current contractual arrangements with a view to minimising the possibility of such claims arising in future. The scope of this exercise is limited to the "legally and physically impossible" clause in our Conditions of Contract (both General, and Design and Build) and to whether or not there is advantage in adding an "unforeseen site circumstances" clause (under which the contractor will be paid extra should such circumstances occur). This review exercise is expected to be completed by mid January 1997.

Mediation Considerations

7. At the previous meeting on 23 October 1996, the Government understood that the Contractor would have no objection to disclosure of the Mediator’s Decision. However, the Contractor’s solicitors have since written to the Government advising that he does not consent to disclosure of this information at this point in time. In these circumstances, the Government is unable to assist Members with the additional information requested at present. Nevertheless, we will be pleased to do so at a later date when the remaining legal matters have been resolved. In this connection, it is anticipated that the forthcoming Coroner’s Inquest will take place early next year.

Need for the Remaining Climbing Lane at Tai Lam

8. The findings of a Before-and-After study (at the Annex) indicate that the operation of the completed climbing lanes at Sam Shing Hui and So Kwun Wat are generally satisfactory with an increase in the overall peak hour flow of around 400 vehicles, representing 9% more and with a shorter peak period. However, it is observed that the outstanding Tai Lam section remains a bottleneck. This reduces the overall effectiveness of the other completed climbing lanes, particularly the one at the So Kwun Wat section. We therefore consider it necessary to complete the remaining climbing lane at Tai Lam.

Additional Lane

9. The need to provide an additional new lane to Tuen Mun Road as suggested by some Members would have to be looked at in the longer term, having regard to the various proposed additional transport infrastructure facilities in the NWNT, e.g. Route 3 (Country Park Section) (completion in mid-1998), Sham Tseng Link (completion in 2004) and the Western Corridor Railway. Other major road projects between the North and South NT will also be considered in the context of one or more possible new road links with Guangdong.

10. A very preliminary desk-top assessment also indicates that there are considerable physical constraints in the provision of an additional new lane to Tuen Mun Road. This will involve for example a large scale land resumption/clearance programme. Even assuming that all the constraints can be overcome, the whole process from initial planning to commissioning of construction work will take at least some 6 years.

11. We will continue to review the need for additional road projects in this part of the New Territories. Indeed, the Third Comprehensive Transport Study, which will commence in early 1997, will provide us with an appropriate vehicle to determine, inter alia, the need and timing of highway projects in Hong Kong.

Highways Department
November 1996


Summary of Tuen Mun Road Climbing Lanes Before & After Study




Queueing situation

Slow moving queues on all the 4 uphill sections

No queues on completed climbing lane sections except at So Kwun Wat section which is mainly affected by queue back from Tai Lam section.

Peak period

07:00 - 08:45
(from 9/95 - 8/96)

07:00 - 08:15

Shortened by about 30 minutes
(Data taken at Sham Tseng Interchange)

Peak hour traffic flows

4,400 veh

4,800 veh

+400veh (9%)
(Data taken at Sham Tseng Interchange)

Journey time
(from Tuen Mun town centre to Tsuen Wan Tai Chung Road)

24 min (at 0700)(1)
29 min (at 0800) (2)

24 min (at 0700) (1)
28 min (at 0800) (2)

- marginally better by about 1 minute

Note - (1) The survey car departed at 0700 from Tuen Mun town centre.
(2) The survey car departed at 0800 from Tuen Mun town centre.

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