GEORGE TOWN, Oct 2 — The second Penang Bridge will be the longest seismic-resistant bridge in the world once completed.
The bridge can withstand tremors of a 7.5 Richter-scale earthquake with an epicentre about 600km away.
“This is because every pillar is supported by high damping rubber bearings (HDRB) that can absorb any tremors undersea,” said Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd construction director Hamizol Ngah.
The HDRB is a technology developed by a Malaysian laboratory, the Tunku Abdul Rahman Research Centre in Brickendonbury, the United Kingdom.
“The HDRB is manufactured fully in Malaysia and it is installed under every pillar of the bridge so that it will absorb any tremors, sparing the bridge from any damage,” he said. A total of 2,704 HDRBs are installed under the pillars along the whole length of the bridge.
On concerns that China Communications and Construction Co Ltd had built the eight-lane Yangmingtan Bridge across Songhua River in China where a 100m-long ramp section had collapsed last month, state Public Works executive councillor Lim Hock Seng said it was confirmed that the company did not build the ramp that collapsed.
China Communications is the parent company of China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd (CHEC). CHEC together with UEM Builders Sdn Bhd are building the second bridge connecting Batu Kawan on the mainland to Batu Maung on the island.
“The section that collapsed was not built by China Communications but another contractor. However, for the sake of public safety and everyone’s peace of mind, we have already written to the federal government last month to conduct a safety study audit of the current construction to ensure that all construction work is done under stringent control and in accordance with international standards,” said Lim.
He said the federal government has yet to reply and the state was still waiting for a complete safety study audit report of the whole project.
Hamizol (picture) said the bridge can withstand a weight of 180 tonnes — the equivalent of stacking two large lorries on top of each other — at any one point and it will not crack.
The construction of the RM4.5 billion bridge is ahead of schedule and it is now 84.35 per cent complete. It is expected to reach 90 per cent completion by the end of this year.
“Construction work is ahead of schedule and it will be fully completed by September 8 next year,” said Hamizol.
He said the Batu Kawan Expressway linking to the bridge and the superstructure work of the approaching spans will be completed about a month after the main bridge structure is completed.
Two main roads to disperse traffic to and from the second bridge will also be built.
Lim said a RM262 million project to expand and upgrade the coastal road, Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, that links the Penang Bridge to the second bridge will start next year.
“They are now finalising the designs for the project and it will be open for tender by the end of this year so the project will start by next year,” he said.
The project, which is under the federal government and facilitated by the state government, will not complete in time for the opening of the second bridge but it would not cause any traffic obstruction as the existing roads will still be open to traffic.
A further RM161million has been allocated to expand and upgrade the road linking the bridge in Batu Maung to Teluk Kumbar and work on it too is expected to start by next year.
“Construction work for both projects will cause minimal impact on traffic as the normal roads heading to the second bridge will continue to be open to traffic,” he said.
Lim also said only about 20,000 vehicles are expected to use the second bridge, taking about 20 per cent of the traffic from the first bridge.
Construction work on the second bridge started in 2008. The bridge will span 24km, making it the longest bridge in Southeast Asia.