GEORGE TOWN - The RM4.5billion (S$1.7 billion)second Penang bridge will be opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at 8.30pm today.
A host of dignitaries, including former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is expected to travel in an open top double-decker bus from the Batu Maung interchange on the island to the Batu Kawan interchange on the mainland.
The public can begin using the bridge from the stroke of midnight.
The first 1,000 vehicles crossing the bridge from the Batu Kawan interchange will receive certificates from bridge concessionaire Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB).
The 24km-long bridge, with 16.9km of it over water, is the longest in South-East Asia. It took six years to complete.
Abdullah performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the project in Batu Kawan on Nov 12, 2006, but actual construction only began two years later.
By comparison, the first Penang bridge is 13.5km-long and was opened to the public in 1985. Construction started three years earlier.
The first bridge has a capacity of 155,000 vehicles per day compared to 120,000 vehicles before the bridge expansion.
The second Penang bridge, however, will have a capacity of 100,000 vehicles per day.
JKSB public relations and communications deputy manager Azizi Azizan said the second bridge would offer a shorter route for those travelling from the mainland to the Bayan Lepas and Balik Pulau areas.