Sort out utilities' relocation issues [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) COMMUTERS in the Klang Valley will, in a few years' time, enjoy the much awai ted seamless and integrated services of the Light Rail Transits, Mass Rapid Transit and an improved version of the monorail with the introduction of longer four-car trains.
Another means of public transport whose start of operation is on the horizon is the Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT. Once operational, it will be viewed as a new kid on the block in public transport.
In promoting the system, proponents are highlighting the excellent attributes of this system. The people movers, instead of train sets running on steel rails, are rubber-tyred buses, either conventional or the longer articulated type. The exclusive busway (tarred road with guideways to prevent intrusion by other motorist), stations and halts, require lighter infrastructure to operate.
In heavily developed areas, the busway can be built above ground and it is said to be cheaper than its rail-based cousin. The much lighter and simpler infrastructure also allows for a shorter construction period.
The first elevated BRT in the Klang Valley is now under construction in the Sunway township. It is scheduled to be operational by the middle of next year. The second system is expected be built on the inner lanes of both sides of the Federal Highway, from Kuala Lumpur to Klang, covering a distance of 35km, or thereabouts. In return, the outer lanes of the highway will have to be widened.
The Federal Highway is one of the oldest highways in the country. It has evolved from a single-to a double-lane carriageway, and then to a three-lane highway from Batu 3 to Klang.
Alongside the highway, all sorts of development flourished, which required the support of infrastructure, such as water, electricity, gas and telecommunications.
All these infrastructure were buried along and across the Federal Highway. These will have to be moved before the BRT busways can be constructed. The utilities' relocation exercise will be a massive project. One of the most common reason attached to the failure to complete any public roadwidening project in time is the inability to refine what is termed the "utilities relocation" scope of the works, resulting in large amounts of time wasted in trying to resolve this issue.
Usually, it is related to failure to quantify the amount of relocation work required because of a lack of information on current conditions. The data, being kept by the utilities service providers, are usually not well-coordinated, so making accurate surveys of the work sites is almost impossible.
The only way to overcome this is for the developer to carry out "utility mapping" to determine the conditions beneath the road surface.
The data from the mapping should be studied by a competent consultant, from which mitigation or relocation plans could be drawn up. At this stage, it is a good idea to share the findings with the utilities service providers, who could offer advice on the best options to economically and efficiently draw up a well-coordinated relocation plan with few missing links and confusion.
The relocation can be completed in two ways. One is to award the work to specialist contractor as an advanced-works package. Before the site is handed over to the main-package contractor, the relocated buried utilities should be tested, commissioned and certified by a specialist contractor.
Alternatively, the relocation-work package is handed to the main- package work contractor, ready for implementation immediately after receiving the letter of award on condition that it is to be done by the specialist contractor appointed by the main-package work contractor. In both options, it is possible to minimise the risks of cost and time overruns.
The operational requirements of a BRT appears similar to a rail- based system. It will use a lot of electronic equipment and instrumentation.
It will also involve installing a host of field bus-wayside devices and an operational control centre from which the day-to-day running of the system is monitored and managed. All these electronic equipment and instrumentation have to be protected from voltage surges resulting from severe lightning.
Otherwise, system down-time caused by lightning over-voltage surges on these electronic equipment will not be helpful in ensuring a world-class BRT. Whatever form the construction methodology may be, it has to be a win-win situation.
Abd Rani Ahmad, Taiping, Perak
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