New SMART Tunnel to Alleviate Congestion and Flooding in Petaling Jaya?

Plans for a new SMART Tunnel traversing Sections 51 and 51A, Federal Highway Route 2, and the New Pantai Expressway (NPE) have been announced, with an estimated cost of RM350 million. This ambitious project aims to mitigate flood risks and reduce surface-level traffic congestion in Petaling Jaya.

Wan Agyl, the former head of policy and planning at the now-defunct Land Public Transport Commission, highlighted the effectiveness of the SMART Tunnel’s flood mitigation system, which diverts stormwater into designated channels and reservoirs. This system has successfully reduced flooding in key areas of Kuala Lumpur and is expected to do the same for Petaling Jaya.

“The SMART Tunnel’s design has proven effective in Kuala Lumpur, where it has successfully reduced flooding in key areas,” Wan Agyl said, according to FMT.

Transport consultant Rosli Khan added that the new SMART Tunnel would provide an alternative route for traffic, alleviating surface-level congestion in Petaling Jaya. However, he cautioned that additional traffic management solutions would be needed, especially if the city’s population and business activities continue to grow.

“Investing in better public transport could reduce the number of vehicles on the road, easing congestion and lessening the need for new road infrastructure,” Rosli said. He emphasised the need for direct public transport services connecting the north and south of the city, particularly between the rail stations south of Petaling Jaya and light rail transit (LRT) stations in the north.

Despite the potential benefits, residents have voiced concerns that the project could disrupt their way of life by encroaching on residential areas. David Yoong, chairman of the Stakeholders cum Residents Against PJD Link (ScRAP) group, argued that the city could manage without the tunnel given its high cost and the lack of traffic studies indicating significant congestion on Jalan 51A/223.

Yoong suggested cheaper alternatives, such as a flyover, which he estimated would cost significantly less than the SMART Tunnel project. “This flyover could link the end of Jalan Penchala to Taman Medan and extend to the Kesas Highway, bridging parts of Petaling Jaya separated by Old Klang Road and the NPE,” he proposed.

For stormwater management, Yoong recommended more cost-effective solutions like detention ponds or below-ground detention tanks.

While the proposed SMART Tunnel promises significant benefits in terms of flood mitigation and traffic congestion relief, the concerns of residents and the potential for more cost-effective alternatives highlight the need for comprehensive traffic studies and community consultation. As Petaling Jaya continues to grow, balancing infrastructure development with community impact and sustainable urban planning will be crucial.

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