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Letter dated 23 May 2004 sent to the South China Morning Post

I must take issue with a number of points made by John Bowden, Chairman of Save our Shorelines in the letter headlined "Road fees are the answer" (South China Morning Post, March 22).

The letter mentioned that comments made by me seemed to imply that the Government had misplaced the full report on ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) delivered in 2001 and that Executive Council has available to it only an executive summary. This is plainly untrue.

I wish to clarify that my only ever-made comment relating to the ERP report was to refute an allegation made by some critics of the Central Reclamation Phase III (CRIII) that the Government had only released an executive summary but not the full report on ERP. Based on advice from the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau (ETWB), I clarified that the Final Report of the Feasibility Study on ERP (which contains an executive summary at the beginning of the report) released by the Administration in April 2001 was the full report. This Final Report has set out the process, major findings and key recommendations of the Study. Mr Bowden is welcome to approach ETWB for a copy of the Final Report to clear any of his doubts.

As regards the two six-lane highways in Central mentioned in the letter, this is a misleading way of presenting the essential transport infrastructure to be provided within CRIII. We have explained on many occasions that the scope of CRIII includes the Central - Wan Chai Bypass (CWB) linking Rumsey Street Flyover and the Island Eastern Corridor via the Island Eastern Corridor Link and new surface roads in Central and Wan Chai (known as the Road P2 network).

The Bypass and Road P2 network serve different purposes. The CWB provides the currently "missing" yet vital transport link on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island, which will divert traffic away from the Central Business District. The Road P2 network consists of new roads linking and enhancing the existing road network in Central and Wan Chai with a view to getting growing traffic from the Hong Kong Station and One and Two International Financial Centre to Wan Chai North without passing along the saturated Connaught Road Central.

For practical engineering reasons, the CWB can only be built underground from land reclaimed with CRIII. The P2 roads will be constructed on part of the reclaimed land. In other words, the construction of the P2 surface roads would not push the shoreline further seaward.

We should also clarify that the Road P2 network within the CRIII area is a dual-2 carriageway. As usual, there are local widening for additional right and left turning lanes (diverging and emerging).

Mrs Carrie Lam
Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands)