BALIK PULAU: The second Penang bridge, which is now 99.9% completed, is expected to be opened to the public in February, said Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof.
“Only the construction of two toll plazas in Batu Kawan – one at the Bandar Cassia interchange and the other at the interchange connecting to the North-South Expressway (NSE) – is yet to be completed.
“Upon completion, the 28-booth toll plaza in Bandar Cassia will be the largest in the country,” he told a press conference at the China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (M) Sdn Bhd office in Batu Maung here.
Currently, the Sungai Besi toll plaza is the largest one in the country with over 18 lanes.
The Bandar Cassia toll plaza (PB2X Toll Plaza) will be managed by Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd. NSE operator PLUS Expressway Bhd will operate the other one (PLUS Toll Plaza).
“The PB2X Toll Plaza is meant for motorists who are not using the NSE, especially the locals who want to commute to the island from the Batu Kawan area. After the construction is done, we have to integrate the system with other highways such as the NSE,” Fadillah said.
He added that the bridge would be opened to the public only after it met requirements set by the Malaysian Highway Authority.
On talk that toll rates would be increased next year, he said they were subject to review every three to five years and added that the toll rates for the bridge were still at the negotiation stage.
“We have a total of 29 tolled highways in the country and the concession agreements vary.
“For example, the NSE is due to be reviewed in 2016,” he said, adding that a few highway tolls would be reviewed next year and the incremental rate would depend on the Federal Government, which would take into account its financial position and the people’s economic situation.
The second Penang bridge, spanning 24km with 16.9km over the sea, is expected to ease at least 25% of traffic congestion on Penang Bridge.