When it comes to highways, it’s the luck of the draw. Everyone will feel for the residential areas immediately below elevated roads – Sri Petaling residents opposing the MEX come to mind – more noise, more dust, you name it. But sometimes, it really is for greater good. Once again, look at MEX.
If new highways are inevitable, the least a concessionaire can do is to minimise impact on areas where the highway cuts through. Prolintas – the company behind the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) that will be officially launched tonight – was keen to highlight its efforts in this department. Some are highway features, some are CSR initiatives.
In yesterday’s media briefing and tour, we saw plenty of noise barriers installed on the sides of the SUKE, which is 90% elevated. According to Prolintas, 18.9 km of noise barriers have been placed on the highway (total, both bounds), covering 37 areas of residential areas, schools and colleges, commercial areas, places of worship, police and army quarters and the Ampang LRT station.
But the most visible improvement is along the Jalan Ampang stretch that has SUKE running above it. This very busy road now has three lanes on each side (from two) and Prolintas group CEO Datuk Mohammad Azlan Abdullah said that the SUKE acts as a canopy for Jalan Ampang – motorcyclists can now ride on this road sheltered, rain or shine.
Obvious road improvement aside, Prolintas also rebuilt affected buildings including the traffic police quarters and IPD Ampang Jaya, the house of Penghulu Ampang and Surau An-Najah in Taman Dato Razali. The new buildings are also upgrades, Mohd Azlan said. The office and staff quarters of the Pejabat Hutan Daerah Selangor Tengah are currently under construction.
Also in the area is the highway’s bifurcated (split) structure design that allows sunlight to reach the Ampang River, which has also been straightened. Sunlight is necessary for a healthy river ecosystem, so this is a good move even if it costs more. Under the highway structure is a linear park with a 1.6 km jogging trail, which benefits the local community.
Away from the Jalan Ampang area, Prolintas also upgraded the local roads in the Hulu Langat area, which the SUKE passes. The hilly section with steep up and downs have seen many accidents over the years, but safety has been improved via a one-way system and less severe gradients. A section of the MRR2 beneath SUKE was also upgraded.
In the environmental department, the highway’s toll plazas adopt Green Building Index (GBI) measures such as rainwater harvesting, permeable surfaces and solar panels. The 24.4 km SUKE is 100% lighted, and all the lights (3,377 in total) are LEDs, which are brighter and more energy efficient. Some trees were sacrificed in the making of the highway, but Prolintas has in return planted 14,000 saplings on 11.33 hectares at the Sungai Besi Forest Reserve.
Last but definitely not least is the concessionaire’s efforts in engaging residents in surrounding areas that would be affected by highway’s construction. Prolintas says that it gave free car washes and health checks to residents living along the SUKE alignment, plus equipment to schools. The company also sponsored education and health community programmes for the B40, as well as festive celebrations. Goes some way in soothing their grievances, perhaps.
SUKE has 14 interchanges along its 24.4 km main line length (57.7 km if one includes all the interchanges), and these are Sri Petaling, Sungai Besi, Alam Damai, Cheras-Kajang, Cheras-Hartamas, Bukit Teratai, Tasik Tambahan, Permai, Kosas, Pekan Ampang, Ampang Point, Ulu Kelang, Hillview and Bukit Antarabangsa. The stretch that will be opened very soon is Phase 1, from Cheras-Kajang to Bukit Antarabangsa.
The MRR2 alternative is linked to the said ring road, Kesas (at Sri Petaling), KL-Seremban Highway, Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya), Grand Saga, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH) and the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE). The future East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) will also be linked. The highway has three toll plazas – Alam Damai, Bukit Teratai and Ampang. The latter two are in the first phase that will be opened soon.
Mohd Azlan says that SUKE is an effective traffic dispersal solution for the eastern part of KL that is projected to relieve traffic on the MRR2 by 30%, Jalan Ampang by 36% and Jalan Loke Yew by 12% during peak hours. Klang Valley’s latest highway will be launched tonight, and the works minister will be announcing the opening time and date, as well as the toll fares. For now, details and description of the SUKE’s landmark features are here, with drone shots.