Mr Chan Mo Po, Paul, MH, JP, Secretary for Development has expressed its deep appreciation on our Bonham Road’s Project (Source from my blog, home page of Development Bureau, the Government of HKSAR, 17 August 2014) Gratitude for your support and understanding for our water works As is the case with other public utilities, water supply networks may age and fail to function properly. We deeply apologise for any inconvenience caused by burst water mains and service suspensions, and we will keep working hard on the maintenance and replacement works. Nonetheless, it is always a huge challenge to lay water mains in busy urban areas. On the one hand, the works may have impacts on traffic and the environment, causing inconvenience to the community; on the other hand, given the high concentration of underground utilities in Hong Kong, co-ordination with other public utility undertakers is required and this always results in delays in commencement or completion of the works. Here, I would like to share with you a recent case of water mains replacement works on Bonham Road on Hong Kong Island. Since 2000, the Water Supplies Department (WSD) has been carrying out a 15-year territory-wide water mains replacement and rehabilitation programme to renew 3 000 kilometres (km) of water mains in stages, including 1km of ageing water mains underneath Bonham Road. As Bonham Road is a main thoroughfare, its closure for water mains replacement works would face a number of constraints. Despite the WSD’s efforts over the past few years, some 300 metres of water mains had yet to be replaced due to the potential impacts on traffic in the vicinity. The department considered an option of carrying out the works from 10am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays. However, before the works are suspended, it would require temporary reinstatement of the road surface to restore traffic, and redigging the road on the next working day to resume the works. As a result, the actual time spent on water mains replacement works would be very limited. It was expected that the entire project would take 15 months to complete, which would be unacceptable to the public. On New Year’s Eve last year, burst water mains on Pok Fu Lam Road caused widespread water suspension and traffic congestion. Central and Western District Council (C&WDC) members called for swift replacement of ageing water mains, and they were prepared to accept short-term inconvenience in traffic in exchange for expedited works. The project team of WSD and its consultant swiftly began discussions with the stakeholders, including C&WDC members, representatives of the University of Hong Kong and nearby schools, the Hong Kong Police Force, the Transport Department, the Environmental Protection Department and bus companies. It was generally considered that the duration of works should not be too long and should be restricted to summer holidays when traffic is less busy. To accelerate progress, they supported closing one lane on Bonham Road for the works so as to save the time required for road reinstatement to restore traffic every day. Though this option would inevitably bring greater traffic and noise nuisance, the time required for the works would be greatly reduced from 15 months to six weeks. The works commenced in phases starting from July 14, 2014. I would like to share with you a few points that have contributed to the smooth implementation of the works. First, in view of the heavy traffic on Bonham Road, the WSD conducted a detailed traffic impact assessment before the works started so as to formulate suitable temporary traffic management measures. During the works, the contractor installed a CCTV camera at each temporary traffic light spot to transmit real-time traffic conditions to the control centre set up at the works site, so that trained operators could adjust the traffic light signals in response to the traffic situation to regulate traffic in the surrounding areas. Furthermore, the WSD made announcements on road diversions to drivers through newspapers and on the radio and also required the contractor to deploy traffic assistants at main road junctions to provide assistance to road users. Second, to minimise noise disturbances to local residents, the WSD has carefully planned the work sequences and arranged for road digging and resurfacing works to be carried out before 7pm. At the same time, a series of measures have been adopted to reduce noise levels, including the use of quiet mechanical equipment and the erection of noise barriers and enclosures. Third, before the commencement of works, apart from communicating with the local District Council (DC) members and the residents to understand their concerns, the WSD set up a WhatsApp mobile chat group comprising project team members, resident site staff and DC members to provide regular and instant updates on the works and serve as a platform for the exchange of views for better and more effective communication with one another. With the support of the community, the DC and the stakeholders and the co-ordination among various government departments, our project team’s dedication and motivation has been greatly improved. The works are now about 80 per cent complete, which is very satisfactory progress. So far, there has been no serious traffic congestion or complaint, and the positive feedback from DC members serves as great encouragement to the WSD’s project team, its consultant and the contractor. It is expected that the waterworks at the carriageway of Bonham Road will be completed by the end of August. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the C&WDC members and all stakeholders again for their support and understanding. Drawing from this experience, the WSD will work out suitable options for water mains replacement works in other road sections which have not yet been carried out due to traffic factors, in order to have all ageing water mains with higher risk of bursting timely replaced so as to reduce the inconvenience caused by burst water mains to the community.
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