Penang’s 10.5km tunnel. 15 mins from Gurney Drive to PIA. Super.

I have missed my flights from the Penang International Airport (PIA) 3 times. Twice was simply due to my mistakes but the very last time was due to the super heavy jam from Gurney Drive all the way to the PIA. The journey took 1 hour and 15 minutes. I was late by 5 minutes. In future, perhaps NO ONE WILL BE LATE for their flights at PIA. 😛  It will take just 15 minutes from the Gurney Drive to PIA when a 10.5km-long tunnel from Persiaran Gurney to PIA. Of course by then, it’s still best to give at least 30 minutes of travelling time instead of only leaving Gurney drive 20 minutes before the flight time yeah. This is part of the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1). Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the project will be challenging task, as apart from the 10.5km tunnel, it would also cut through several hill slopes like Bukit Bendera, Paya Terubong and Sungai Ara. The article in NST here. 
He is now asking for public to review the report prepared by the consultant appointed by the state government. The report can be referred by the public at 10 locations including National Library, Environment and Natural Resources Ministry in Putrajaya, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) apart from Department of Environment (DOE) and state government’s website. He added, “After receiving the feedback from the public, the consultant and the state government will provide explanations on the raised issue to the DOE.” Current travelling time from Gurney Drive to PIA is between 45 minutes to one hour. Chow also shared that the state government might seek funding assistance from the Federal Government if the proposal to build three man made island at the southern part of the island, dubbed Penang South Reclamation (PSR) were not approved. This is part of the Penang Transport Master Plan which will be funded through the reclamation of three man made island with the size of 809 hectares, 526 hectares and 324 hectares respectively for industrial, housing and commercial purposes. Full reference to the NST article here. 
Actually, I would also like more statistics for the PIL 1. For example, how many cars are expected to use it, how much would the toll be if it’s not free and whether this is already the cheapest and best mode.  Connectivity is awesome but just like what our new government has said, it’s not about just project. It is about the benefits from the project and the associated costs; how much could we save if there’s a better alternative plan? As for now, I am still waiting for the most important catalyst for the future of Penang; a new PIA. The current one will be fully ‘flooded’ with passengers within few more years. Yet, there are no solutions in sight. If funds are limited, then I think channelling it to the PIA is a better decision. A more connected Penang to the world outside would boost tourism (including medical tourism), industry connectivity to the world (instead of rail or ports elsewhere) and even the image of Penang when visitors visit. Do we really want to act only when majority of all visitors complain how crowded and congested the airport is? Happy following the Penang transformation story.
written on 17 July 2018
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