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Factsheets, Plans and Map, Review Report

Facts on Central - Wan Chai Bypass

What is the Central - Wan Chai Bypass (CWB)?

CWB is the last, yet to be built section of a strategic highway running along the northern part of the Hong Kong Island. It will connect the existing flyover near Rumsey Street in Central to the existing Island Eastern Corridor (IEC). The map at Annex shows its indicative alignment.

When CWB is completed, vehicles from Chai Wan can use the strategic highway to go all the way to Tuen Mun or the Hong Kong International Airport without having to pass through the busy districts of Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Central unnecessarily.

Why is CWB required?

Traffic congestion along the Connaught Road Central/Harcourt Road/Gloucester Road Corridor (the Corridor) at present is not limited to just the few rush hours experienced by other busy roads in Hong Kong. Gridlocks are not uncommon at most times of the day, especially when there is a minor traffic accident along the Corridor.

Vehicles commuting between the western part and the eastern part of the Hong Kong Island along its northern shore have to make use of the Corridor. CWB will divert such through traffic away from the Central Business District (CBD), cater for the anticipated traffic growth and alleviate congestion on the Corridor and the existing local road networks in the area.

When is CWB required?

There is a compelling and present need for CWB.

At present, travelling by car from Rumsey Street to Causeway Bay during the rush hours take about 15 minutes. If CWB were not ready by 2011/2012, the Corridor world be running at 30% above capacity, the travelling time would worsen to 45 minutes and the average vehicle speed would deteriorate to 5 km/hr.

On what basis is the need for CWB established?

Government's traffic infrastructure planning models since the late 1980s have confirmed the need for CWB. The Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS) model is a planning model that helps formulate solutions to cope with anticipated traffic demand. CTS-2, completed in 1989, confirmed the need for CWB by mid to late 1990s. CTS-3, completed in 1999, reconfirmed the need for the CWB. A recent re-run of CTS-3 using the latest land use planning assumptions and population projections has also reaffirmed the need for CWB.

What economic benefits will CWB bring about?

Using the Internal Rate of Return assessment, the investment on CWB will generate an Economic Internal Rate of Retune of about 28% over its estimated project life of 40 years.

Why can't traffic management measures replace CWB?

Traffic management measures will only provide local, limited short-term relief. They can complement but cannot replace CWB.

Indeed, we are pursuing various traffic management measures to reduce congestion along the Corridor -

  • Restricting loading and unloading times in Central
    We are imposing strict restrictions on loading/unloading along the Corridor. At present, only franchised buses can stop on the Corridor when they call on the bus stops along it. No other vehicles are allowed to carry out loading/unloading on the Corridor.
  • Reducing buses on the Corridor
    We have reduced the number of bus trips going through Central by more than 15% since 1999. Our plan to further rationalise bus services will continue.
  • Improving traffic movements through traffic management measures and associated works
    We have reorganized routings, changed lane demarcations and widened road sections in the area where technically feasible to improve traffic movements to reduce congestion.

We have also considered the following options -

  • Fully utilize the Western Harbour Crossing (WHC)
    Levelling the tolls of the WHC and the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (CHT) would, on the one hand, encourage drivers from the western part of Hong Kong Island to use the WHC. On the other hand, it would also attract drivers from the central and eastern parts of Hong Kong Island to the WHC. This traffic would have to pass through and add to the congestion in the Corridor.

    Some have assessed that, even if the toll level was doubled at the CHT, the shift of traffic away from the Corridor would not be significant.

    Equalizing the tolls would be subject to the agreement of the tunnel operators. While we are exploring various options, including different tolling regimes, to achieve a better distribution of cross-harbour traffic among the three tunnels, significant improvement would only be brought about with the CWB in place such that there will be more flexibility for the motorists to select a tunnel which is most appropriate to their cross harbour trips.
  • Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) and Fiscal Measures
    ERP is one possible form of traffic management provided that: (a) there is an alternative route bypassing the charging zone for those cars not destined for Central (otherwise it would be unfair to charge through traffic); and (b) there is community support for its implementation. While we are actively examining introduction of ERP in Hong Kong, the CWB is a prerequisite and should be provided.

    ERP can complement CWB in relieving traffic congestion but cannot replace it.
  • West Island Line
    The forecast deterioration in traffic condition mentioned above has assumed the presence of the West Island Line which will be an extension of the MTR line from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town. Moreover, we should note that most bus routes run along "inner" roads, including Des Voeux Road and Queen's Road, and not the Corridor. Therefore, even if train service is available in the western district, any reduction in bus services as a result of passenger diversion to the MTR will be limited and at most provide slight relief to the already congested inner roads. It will not help relieve congestion on the Corridor.
  • New hillside escalators from Central to Mid-levels
    Additional escalator links will help relieve the traffic burden along roads in the Mid-levels, but will not help relieve congestion in the Central and Wan Chai areas.

    More pedestrian escalators linking Mid-levels to the harbour front will not help reduce traffic running between the eastern and western parts of the northern shore of the Hong Kong Island.

What if CWB is delayed?

Protracted delay of CWB will lead to the following problems -

  • worsening traffic congestion
  • increased risk of gridlock;
  • worsening air quality, noise and physical environment;
  • deteriorating operating conditions for public transport; and
  • deteriorating environment for pedestrians.

The Corridor has been used heavily for many years. Major repair and reconstruction works would be required in the next decade. If the CWB were not completed in time for such works, east-west traffic could be paralyzed when parts of the Corridor have to be closed for repair and/or reconstruction works.

Why are the planned slip roads of CWB important?

The planned slip roads near the Convention and Exhibition Centre and Victoria Park Road would help optimise the use of CWB and enhance the accessibility of the whole Wan Chai North area.

At present, there are often tailbacks on Fenwick Street, Fleming Road, Harbour Road, Victoria Park Road, Hing Fat Street and Causeway Road as traffic queues to get into the Corridor. The slip roads would facilitate dispersing traffic from Wan Chai North and Causeway Bay areas to CWB directly and would thus relieve the traffic congestion.

Our assessment shows that without the slip roads, a significant portion of CWB traffic would revert back to the Corridor. The critical sections of the Corridor would be overloaded by up to 20% by 2016. With the slip roads, the Corridor would work within capacity by 2016.

Just imagine what King's Road would be like if the slip roads of the Island Eastern Corridor near Tai Koo Shing were not built. All vehicles commuting from the area would be using King's Road.

Transport Expert Forum on Sustainable Transport Planning and CWB

A panel made up of leading local and overseas transport planning experts has completed its deliberation on the need for CWB.

The panel supports the construction of CWB to improve the reliability of the road network and to enhance multi-modal public transportation in the Corridor. The panel agrees that the inability of the present infrastructure capacity to cope with present and future travel demand would persist even if development in Central reclamation area were stopped and territory-wide car ownership held unchanged from now until 2016. (It is estimated that the new developments in CRIII including the redevelopment of the Tamar site will only give rise to less than 4% of the traffic flow into and out of the Central Business District.) It further supports the provision of the planned slip roads at the Convention and Exhibition Centre area and Victoria Park Road/Gloucester Road/Hing Fat Street passageway to magnify the benefits of CWB.

The panel has also recommended a number of short to long term measures for achieving sustainable transport. The full report of the panel can be viewed at

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