The Hong Kong government has said for the first time it is willing to build a coastal road from Tung Chung to Tai O, along with another road from Tai O to Fan Lau.
A new Tung Chung-Tai O road has been long sought by Lantau rural committees and the tourist industry, which say the current road through South Lantau is too old and narrow to support growing traffic volume.
But the announcement of a road from Tai O to Fan Lau, on the southwest edge of Lantau, is a surprise. It is interesting to note that at least one member of government’s key advisory committee, LanDAC, owns property in Tai O and Yi O, en route to Fan Lau.
The Transport Department said the 11km Tung Chung-Tai O road would include a 750-metre tunnel and, based on early estimates, would cost around HK$4.7 billion. It would take eight and a half years to complete. The 8km Tai O-Fan Lau road has not been costed.
The plan represents an switch by the government, which has long resisted calls for construction of the road. As recently as May LanDAC said it did not support the project. But both projects are sure to be hotly contested by environmental groups and some local residents.
Government officials acknowledge the new roads would have an impact on country parks and residential enclaves, as well as a number historical sites along the proposed route, which will pass through some of Hong Kong’s oldest villages. Officials also acknowledge that the number of people the new roads would serve is small.
The Tung Chung-Tai O road will serve just 1,200 residents living in villages such as San Tau, Sha Lo Wan and San Shek Wan, along with the 3,600 residents of Tai O. About 1,200 people live along the route of the proposed Fan Lau road.