LC Paper No. PWSC41/98-99
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/2/2

Public Works Subcommittee of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council

Minutes of the sixth meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Wednesday, 21 October 1998, at 10:45 am

Members present :

Hon HO Sai-chu, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Margaret NG
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Christine LOH
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP

Public officers attending :
Miss Emma LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (3)

Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Secretary for Works Ag.

Mr Rob LAW, JP
Director of Environmental Protection

Mr Edward CHU
Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury (Works) Ag.

Director of Highways

Ms Shirley LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Mr SIN Kwok-keung
Chief Traffic Engineer (New Territories East), Transport Department

Mr LEE Yan-ming
Chief Traffic Engineer (New Territories West), Transport Department

Director of Water Supplies

Mrs Joanna KWOK
Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon, Transport Department

Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (Project Management)

Mr KWAN Chi-wai
Chief Traffic Engineer/Hong Kong, Transport Department

Mr LO Yiu-ching,JP
Director of Territory Development
Clerk in attendance:
Miss Polly YEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3
Staff in attendance:
Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

Upgrading of projects to Category A

PWSC(98-98)26 561TH Widening of Tolo Highway between Island House interchange and Ma Liu Shui interchange

1. A member commented that the estimated site staff costs of $131.4 million was on the high side. He pointed out that although the section of Tolo Highway to be widened was 5.4 kilometres long, it was largely a straight through carriageway and thus the proposed roadworks were not technically complicated. In response, the Director of Highways (DHy) remarked that this was a large-scale project with reclamation and road works and the works were required to be completed within a tight schedule. It was anticipated that about 10 professionals and 49 technical/clerical staff would be engaged to supervise and manage the works on site during the construction period. DHy advised that the site staff costs, which accounted for only 7.7% of the estimated total construction costs of this project, should not be regarded as exceptionally high when compared to the site staff costs of roadworks projects of similar scale. He however took note of members' concern that the site staff establishment should be no larger than necessary to control project costs.

2. A member queried whether the estimated 7% annual increase in cross boundary traffic had been over-estimated and pointed out that the growth of freight transport had slowed down over the past year and that the local terminals for river freight, which had been commissioned recently, would help divert some land freight transport. In reply, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport(5) (PAS/T(5)) advised that the Planning Department was undertaking a study on cross boundary traffic. Pending the outcome of the study, it was considered appropriate to project future cross boundary traffic on the basis of the average growth rate of the past five years. She remarked that apart from the increase in cross boundary traffic, there were other factors contributing to the increase in traffic flow on Tolo Highway such as the growth in population in the region. As the existing capacity of Tolo Highway was already insufficient to cope with traffic flows during peak hours, the Administration considered it necessary to widen the highway to cope with both the present and future traffic demand.

3. Responding to a member's enquiry about plans to improve the road networks to the north and south of the concerned section of Tolo Highway, PAS/T(5) advised that there were co-ordinated road improvement plans for the region. A proposal for the funding of the investigation and preliminary design for the widening of the remaining section of Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway between Island House interchange and Fanling would be submitted to this Subcommittee shortly. There were also plans to widen the roads south of the Tolo Highway leading to Ma On Shan and Shatin as set out in the supplementary information paper PWSCI(98-99)14 (circulated to members vide LC Paper No. 32/98-99 dated 20 October 1998).

4. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)27 593TH Hiram's Highway improvement phase 3 : improvement between Nam Wai and Ho Chung and upgrading local access roads
5.A member remarked that in view of the current high rate of unemployment, the public were particularly concerned about the job opportunities arising from the implementation of public works projects. She suggested that relevant information on new job opportunities that could be created by public works projects be included in the funding proposals. In response, the Secretary for Works said that although such information could be provided, it might not be easy to relate the information to the overall employment situation as each project had a specific implementation schedule. The Chairman added that while the number of additional jobs created might not be the most critical factor in considering a project, he shared the member*s view that this was a matter of genuine public concern. At this request, the Administration agreed to consider including, where practicable, the relevant information in future submissions.Admin.

6. As regards the job opportunities arising from the present project, DHy informed members that about 90 jobs would be created by this project.

7. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)28 721TH Widening of Yuen Long Highway between Lam Tei and Shap Pat Heung Interchange

8. Addressing a member's concern about the impact of the proposed roadworks on the village developments along the section of the Yuen Long Highway (YLH) to be widened during and after the construction period, DHy advised that a road widening reserve had been provided when the highway was first constructed. The road widening works would be carried out on the reserve and thus would have minimal impact on the few existing developments along YLH. If existing access roads or pedestrian ways were affected by the works, the contractor would be required to implement appropriate temporary traffic measures to maintain access. Addressing the member's concern about the erection of central divider under the project which would restrict traffic from making turns, he clarified that there already existed a central divider on the YLH and traffic should not be adversely affected by the proposed widening works. PAS/T(5) supplemented that the present proposal only covered the preliminary design and ground investigation works. When the project was ready to proceed to the construction stage, the proposed roadworks would be gazetted and any person who believed that he/she would be adversely affected by such works could raise objections in accordance with the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance.

9. In reply to a member's enquiry about the proposed arrangement of carrying out ground investigations for the detailed design concurrently with the preliminary design of the project, DHy advised that the purpose of the arrangement was to shorten the duration of the detailed design stage so as to expedite the whole project. The arrangement was feasible in this project because the proposed road widening would basically follow the existing alignment of YLH and thus the location and amount of ground investigation works could be ascertained at an early stage. At the member*s request, DHy agreed to provide further information on the estimated cost savings as a result of the arrangement.Admin.

10. A member queried the necessity of the proposed road widening if the construction of Route 10 - North Lantau to Yuen Long could be expedited to tie in with the completion of the Deep Bay Link in 2004, thus diverting some cross boundary traffic away from YLH. PAS/T(5) affirmed the need for the proposed road widening and explained that taking into account the scheduled completion of Route 10 by 2007, the volume to capacity (V/C) ratio of YLH without widening would reach 1.49 by year 2011.

11. Noting that the existing dual 2-lane YLH was only completed in 1994 but was already anticipated to be operating beyond capacity by year 2001, members queried the cost-effectiveness of constructing a dual 2-lane carriageway, instead of a dual 3-lane carriageway, in the first place. In this connection, they enquired about the expected life span of new trunk roads under the existing policy. In response, DHy and PAS(T)5 advised that new trunk roads were usually planned to meet traffic demand for 10 to 20 years upon completion. The decision to construct a dual 2-lane carriageway or otherwise depended on the traffic demand forecast when a new road was planned. In the case of YLH (formerly called Yuen Long Bypass), the original purpose of the highway was to divert some traffic away from Castle Peak Road to alleviate traffic congestion in Yuen Long New Town. The traffic demand forecast at the planning stage only justified the construction of a dual 2-lane carriageway while the future need was catered for by providing a road widening reserve along the dual 2-lane carriageway. The Government had been conducting on-going monitoring of the traffic flows on YLH and having regard to recent territory development plans and transport studies, it was anticipated that traffic flows on YLH would increase significantly during the next 10-year period due to substantial population growth in the North-west New Territories and the increase in cross boundary traffic routing through the YLH upon the completion of the Deep Bay Link by 2004. These future developments gave rise to the need for the widening of YLH.

12. In connection with road planning, a member commented that new trunk roads in Hong Kong should be built to the same standard capacity of trunk roads in most other metropolitan cities. The trunk roads should have a minimum configuration of dual 3-lanes or have a road widening reserve for subsequent widening. This would obviate the problem of not having sufficient land for road widening in future. In response, DHy explained that most trunk roads completed in recent years were of the dual 3-lane design. Besides, recent detailed traffic studies had allowed additional road capacities in the assessment and more carriageway widths would be assigned when considered necessary.

13. Taking note of the Administration's explanation, some members were still concerned about the mechanism for the planning of new roads and road improvements, with particular regard to cost-effectiveness. In view of members' concerns, the Chairman suggested that the policy issues on road planning be followed up further by the relevant Panel.XX
14. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)23 86WC Water supply to Pak Shek Kok, Tai Po - remaining works

15. In reply to a member's enquiry about the incorporation of the main laying works under the present proposal into the roadworks contract of the Tolo Highway widening project 561TH under item PWSC (98-99)26, the Director of Water Supplies (DWS) and DHy advised that funds for the main laying works had not been provided for in project 561TH. Subject to approval of the present proposal, funds would be allocated to project 561TH for carrying out the main laying works. This entrustment arrangement could help save time and costs by avoiding repetitive road opening and other co-ordination problems arising from two contractors working on the same site.

16. In connection with road openings, the member enquired about measures to obviate the need for frequent re-opening of a road by different parties. DHy, in reply, advised that a computerized system was in place to co-ordinate and monitor road opening by utility operators. To reduce the disruption caused by road openings, works in areas with heavy traffic would be restricted to be carried out at night time. Utility operators were also required to conduct traffic impact assessment studies and submit plans for traffic diversion before commencing large-scale utility installation works. He pointed out that as a result of rapid development and redevelopment of the territory and the many different kinds of utility trunking and cables underground, a certain extent of disruption caused by road openings was inevitable despite active co-ordination and monitoring. He further informed members that there were about 60,000 applications for road opening works every year and the number of road openings in the territory at any one time was about 2,000.

17. In reply to a member's enquiry on whether the proposed water supply facilities had taken into account the water demand of the future developments in the Pak Shek Kok (PSK) reclamation area, DWS confirmed that the present project was not targeted at meeting the water demand of the future developments in the PSK reclamation area, which had yet to be ascertained. Future water supply facilities for this area would require separate funding, but the remaining part of the present project under Category B could be modified to provide the necessary interface with the future facilities for the PSK reclamation area.

18. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)33 125TB Pedestrian subway at junction of Kowloon Park Drive and Peking Road

19. In reply to a member's enquiry about the extended section of the proposed pedestrian subway leading to the Lippo Sun Plaza, DHy advised that this extended section had been proposed and would be funded by the private developer concerned. The Government agreed to connect the proposed subway to this extended section because this arrangement would provide pedestrians with an additional access to and from the subway without any additional cost to the Government.

20. On the feasibility of providing a direct exit from the subway to the pedestrian walkway at the western end, DHy and the Chief Traffic Engineer/Kowloon, Transport Department (CTE/K) advised that this was not feasible due to insufficient width of the pedestrian walkway; a staircase exit would need to be 2.5 metres in width discounting the walls on both sides while the pedestrian way was only 4.5 metres in width. Thus, providing an exit direct to the pedestrian walkway would cause a bottleneck in the pedestrian flow on the walkway.

21. As all the exits at the western end of the proposed subway had to be routed through private developments, members expressed concern about the opening hours and the reliability of the access facilities within the private developments. The Administration assured members that the Administration had made and would continue to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that there would be 24-hour access to the subway at both ends. At the western end, while the developer of Lippo Sun Plaza had agreed to open its access facilities between 7:00 am to 10:00 pm each day, the developer of No. 1 Peking Road was required to construct and maintain a staircase and an escalator leading to the pedestrian walkway in front of No. 1 Peking Road at its own cost, and to ensure that an access would be open to the public round the clock. The Administration added that these requirements had been included in the relevant land sale conditions and were legally binding on the developer.

22. In reply to members' enquiry about the location of the access facilities within the development at No. 1 Peking Road, DHy and CTE/K advised that the detailed design of the access facilities was yet to be finalised at this stage because the overall design of the development on the site was still underway. In any case, under the land sale conditions, the developer was required to seek the Administration's agreement to the design of the access facilities. The Administration would ensure that the access facilities would provide quick and direct access between the subway and the pedestrian walkway. In reply to a member, DHy said that the access facilities at No. 1 Peking Road were scheduled for commissioning by 2002. He confirmed that pending availability of the 24-hour access to the subway at both ends, the existing at-grade pedestrian crossing of Kowloon Park Drive would be retained.

23. Responding to a member's enquiries about the operation and the estimated construction cost of the lift at the eastern end of the subway, DHy advised that because there was inadequate space for access ramps, a lift had to be provided to facilitate access for disabled persons. The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department would be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the lift. Presently, there were lifts provided for disabled persons at the Central Walkway System near the General Post Office and the footbridge linking the Wan Chai Station of the Mass Transit Railway. They were operated in the same manner and were functioning well. At the member*s request, DHy agreed to provide information on the construction cost of the lift. Admin.

24. A member remarked that the pedestrian walkways along Peking Road between Kowloon Park Drive and Nathan Road were insufficient to cope with the existing pedestrian traffic and that there was no designated pedestrian crossing in this area. While acknowledging the situation, CTE/K nevertheless advised that there was little space left for widening the pedestrian walkways. She added that although there was no immediate plan to improve the traffic in the area, the feasibility of making improvement would be further examined in the context of the East Rail extension from Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui.

25. On some members' concern that the extended section to Lippo Sun Plaza might become a crime-prone spot during the closure of the access facilities at the Plaza between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am, DHy agreed to consult the relevant parties, including the Police, on the most appropriate location of the gate for the extended section.

26. On the provision of directional signs for pedestrians, CTE/K advised that the Transport Department would post/erect signs at appropriate locations to direct pedestrians from various directions to make use of the subway to cross the Kowloon Park Drive. She added that it was feasible to put up these signs and adjust their locations when needed.

27. The item was voted on and endorsed.


PWSC(98-99)29 642TH Improvement to Island Eastern Corridor section between North Point interchange and Sai Wan Ho - consultants' fees and site investigations

28. On how the proposed road improvements could address the traffic congestion and safety problems on the Island Eastern Corridor (IEC), DHy advised that presently, traffic congestion mainly occurred on the eastern and western approach roads to the Eastern Harbour Crossing (EHC) due to the queuing up of tunnel bound vehicles and the lack of traffic lanes to cater for eastbound and westbound through traffic. The main thrust of the present proposal was to provide additional traffic lanes along the IEC to cater for the eastbound and westbound through traffic, thus reducing the traffic congestion on the section of the IEC near EHC and alleviating the weaving and merging problems near the EHC. DHy referred to the layout plan attached to the paper and pointed out that two new elevated carriageways would be constructed along the IEC, one with two eastbound lanes and the other with one westbound lane. The other proposed improvements were ancillary to the provision of these additional traffic lanes.

29. Noting that the V/C ratios of the critical sections of the IEC with improvement would only be 0.76 and 0.75 in year 2011, a member queried the justification for the proposed improvements at their present scale and enquired about alternative traffic management measures. In response, the Administration explained that the V/C ratios were based on the number of vehicles on a carriageway at one time and the capacity of the carriageway. In this case, the ratios did not fully reflect the situation of long traffic queues near the EHC which caused merging and weaving problems and delays to through traffic. The proposed road improvements sought to address these problems by separating the through traffic from the tunnel bound traffic. It was feasible to implement traffic control measures, such as prohibiting the direct entry of vehicles to the EHC from slip roads to IEC, but they would cause much inconvenience to road users and could only temporarily relieve the traffic congestion and safety problems. The proposed road improvements on the other hand could provide a fundamental and long term solution to those problems.

30. A member queried whether the proposed elevated carriageway along the IEC from Man Hong Street to the EHC would require reclamation, and if so, whether the reclamation works would be subject to the provisions of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance (Cap. 531) (the Ordinance). DHy advised that the location of the carriageway was outside the boundary of the harbour area covered by the Ordinance and the carriageway would be supported by piles constructed on the foreshore. Thus, no reclamation works would be required. In this connection, the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands pointed out that technically, the definition of "reclamation" in the Ordinance could also cover the construction of elevated structures within the "central harbour" as defined in the Ordinance.

31. In reply to a member's enquiry on the feasibility of expediting the project, DHy stressed that the present implementation schedule was already very tight; the detailed design was scheduled for completion by mid 2000 and the construction works would commence in mid 2000 for completion by late 2003.

32. The item was voted on and endorsed.

PWSC(98-99)30 212WF Transfer facilities from Butterfly Valley primary service reservoir to secondary service reservoirs in the metropolitan area - stage 1

33. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury informed members that as some technical issues relating to the proposal needed to be resolved, the Administration would withdraw this item and resubmit it to the Subcommittee in the near future.


PWSC(98-99)31 476CL Formation and servicing in area 36, Fanling

34. In reply to a member's enquiry, the Director of Territory Development (DTD) advised that there was a co-ordinated plan for flood control projects in North-east New Territories. Major flood control projects in the region included the river training and rehabilitation works underway in Area 30B in Fanling, and the river training and fish pond restoration of River Beas and of the lower reaches of River Indus leading to Shenzhen River which would be submitted for funding approval at a later stage. On river training works in general, it was essential to complete the downstream works before the upstream works. In reply to the member, he confirmed that works on the section of Shek Sheung River between the box culvert at Pak Wo Road and Shenzhen River had been included under other projects, some of which had been completed.

35. As regards sewerage works under the project in question, DTD advised that the proposed sewer (shown red on the layout plan attached to the paper) would connect the future branch sewers in Area 36 and the existing main sewer leading to Shek Wu Hui Sewage Treatment Works. The branch sewers conveying the sewage generated from the future developments in Area 36 would be connected in phases to the proposed sewer under the respective housing development projects.

36. In reply to a member about the land resumption for the proposed works, DTD advised that approval of the Executive Council had been obtained for the required land resumption which would be carried out in the next few months to enable the proposed works to commence in February 1999. On the rehousing arrangement for the affected households, DTD informed members that of the 347 affected households, about 50 households involving 137 persons had been initially assessed to be ineligible for rehousing in public rental housing under the prevailing housing policy. Those clearees found to be genuinely homeless on the day of clearance would be offered temporary accommodation in a transit centre, and their eligibility for public housing would be further assessed during the stay therein.

37. As a matter of policy, a member urged the Administration to offer public rental housing to persons affected by land acquisition for river training and rehabilitation works, irrespective of whether these persons possessed land entitlement. He also requested the Administration to provide compassionate rehousing for persons affected by the land acquisition under the present proposal on par with the rehousing offered to those persons affected by the river training works in Area 30B in Fanling.

38. At members' request, the Administration agreed to provide, before the scheduled meeting of the Finance Committee on 13 November 1998 at which the proposal would be considered, information on the facilities available at the aforesaid transit centre and on the clearees' usual period of stay therein before being offered interim housing or other types of accommodation, as well as to confirm its policy on the rehousing of persons affected by land acquisition or river training and rehabilitation works.Admin.

39. The item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU requested that her reservation on the proposal be recorded.

40. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:45 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
9 November 1998