All Set for the Mangrove Motorway

DENPASAR

South Bali’s new traffic-beating road option has finally been settled: it will be an 11.5-kilometre elevated road on concrete pylons built in the protected mangrove forest of Benoa Harbour and run from South Denpasar to Nusa Dua east of the congested Ngurah Rai Bypass.

The proposed Sanur-Tanjung Benoa toll bridge plan has been abandoned as have other proposals for tunnels and flyovers.

Instead a Rp1.4-trillion (US$154-million) toll way on 1,000 pylons will take traffic from Pedungan in South Denpasar to Nusa Dua. The final plan was approved by the central government this month, according to a Bali government spokesman.

The new highway will have an airport access point.

A two-month survey of the proposed route will be done before construction contracts are let. But the timeframe is short because under a presidential instruction the new road must be operation before an APEC Summit meeting due to be held in Bali in 2013.

The project is being financed by four state-owned enterprises including the airport and Port of Benoa operators and the Bali Tourism Development Corporation.

News of the road decision came as the vice-chairman of the Bali House of Representatives, Ketut Suwandhi, announced that earlier plans to build a toll way and bridge connecting Serangan Island – Turtle Island in Benoa Harbour – with Tanjung Benoa could not proceed because of uncertain land titles on Serangan and the reported bankruptcy of the Turtle Island Development Corporation (BTID).

But the bridge plan had already run into difficulties due to conflicting requirements from the Port of Benoa and Ngurah Rai International Airport. International maritime regulations require a minimum clearance for shipping under bridges and international air transport rules set strict height limits on structures below landing and takeoff flight paths at airports.

Suwandhi said he hoped the “mangrove motorway” plan would not endanger the natural environment, but acknowledged that some impact on the mangroves was inevitable.

Mangroves are protected internationally because they are critical marine life breeding grounds and also protect coastlines from erosion and help limit damage from tsunamis.

Suwandhi said construction of the new highway should include funding for mangrove reforestation after the road is completed.

Local Indonesian-language media say the new highway will be dubbed the JDR – Jalan di Atas Rawa.

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