Dewa Ruci II: Underpass Back on the Agenda

DENPASAR

The saga of the Simpang Siur flyover — part of Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s plan to ease traffic congestion ahead of the 2013 ASEAN summit meeting in Bali — has taken a new turn.

The national planning board (BAPPENAS) has agreed to partly fund an underpass instead. The flyover would involve moving the Dewa Ruci statue at Simpang Siur, a plan that has run into opposition from people seeking to retain the cultural feel it gives to the area.

The statue, which is not a religious icon but portrays a scene from the Hindu Mahabharata epic, has to be moved to allow the most cost-effective and traffic-friendly road alignment on the flyover.

Engineers say running the flyover around the statue would affect curves and gradients and involve acquisition of valuable commercial land in the area.

An underpass was earlier rejected as an option because the water table is only 1.5 metres below ground at Simpang Siur.

The planning board pledge was made at a meeting in Jakarta attended by a Bali public works department delegation and members of the Bali legislature.

Legislator Ida Bagus Udiyana, a graduate of Udayana University’s technical faculty, said after the meeting that national planners supported the idea of an underpass. He dismissed as a technicality claims that the high water table in the area ruled out going underground.

Local media reports said the new plan will include both a flyover and an underpass.

The flyover and associated traffic improvements at the airport turnoff further south have been guaranteed Rp1 trillion (US$110 million) in national funding.

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