Second Penang bridge ready for use

BALIK PULAU,Malaysia - The second Penang bridge is now 99% complete and the launching date will be determined by the Federal Government some time next month.

Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Datuk (Ir) Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib said they hoped to wrap things up by Nov 8.

The Batu Maung interchange ramp that collapsed in June was rebuilt earlier this month.

"Motorists will get to enjoy free trips of the bridge for one month after its launch," Dr Ismail told reporters during a load test at the bridge's main navigational span yesterday.

The load test was carried out at the 475m cable-stayed bridge, to ascertain the load capacity of the bridge.

"It is important to ensure that the cable-stayed bridge is built according to the design and specifications," Dr Ismail said.

A total of 17 trailer trucks ferrying concrete boulders weighing 595 tonnes were placed along the 240m stretch at the main span of the cable-stayed bridge.

Dr Ismail said even an earthquake would not affect the bridge.

"It was specially designed to withstand quakes measuring 7.5 and above on the Richter scale."

Dr Ismail also said the project's cost, which was earlier stipulated at RM4.5bil, was RM50mil lower and the excess funds had been used for landscaping and decorative lights.

The colour and tempo of the lights could be changed according to the country's major festivities or celebrations, similar to the Incheon Bridge in South Korea.

The toll rate for the bridge has yet to be determined.