A Highways Department official on Thursday said planned work to upgrade and widen Lion Rock Tunnel is needed because wear and tear may affect its operation in the long-run.
Tony Cheung, a deputy major works project manager, noted that the south-bound tunnel opened in 1967 and the second tunnel came into operation in 1978, saying they have since become like an old man who always needs to see the doctor.
“We always have to do maintenance and repair work. Almost every other night, we have to close parts of it for maintenance work. We only have very little time as we usually have to do it in the middle of the night within several hours. When the materials for repairs are barely dried and barely usable, we have to reopen the tunnel,” he said.
“In future, just like a person who gets old and has to spend more time seeing doctors, we are worried that we will have to spend more time on repair and maintenance and it may affect the tunnel’s operation,” he said, noting, however, that there are no safety issues at the moment.
Cheung said the expansion work will add a third lane in each direction and the project is expected to be completed in 2033.
He said the capacity of the tunnel will be increased to 5,400 vehicles per hour, but he doesn’t expect traffic volume to reach maximum capacity.
He said the work will hopefully reduce traffic jams in peak hours.