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06 June 2007

Mott MacDonald marks opening of SMART in Malaysia

This month saw the opening of SMART to the general public of Malaysia and Mott MacDonald's engineers for the project helped celebrate the official opening.

SMART has also struck such a cord locally that it has been reported that the Government is carrying out detailed studies on the prospect of constructing more tunnels instead of cutting hill slopes when building new highways.

"To help ease traffic congestion in cities, we need to build new highways. I have directed the Public Works Department to do detailed studies to incorporate tunnels under existing busy roads and through hill slopes.

"The SMART tunnel is a creative engineering solution which we can replicate elsewhere in the country," Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said.

SMART, a world's first, is a twin system consisting a stormwater channel and a motorway in a single infrastructure. It is expected to reduce travel time between Sg Besi and the city centre to five minutes from the current 30 minutes. The upper deck of the motorway tunnel is for traffic heading south, while the lower deck is for city-bound traffic. It is anticipated that around 200,000 vehicles travel daily from Sg Besi to the city centre.

Whilst enhancing journey times was one driver for SMART, "Solving the flooding problems that have caused millions in financial losses for the city was the initial driver for the tunnel," explained Dave Parks, Mott MacDonald's Chief Resident Engineer for the project.



SMART – Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel – is as clever as its name suggests. The 11.5 km long 11.8m internal diameter tunnel (just under twice the diameter of the Channel Tunnel) will divert flood waters away from the confluence of the two rivers running through central Kuala Lumpur while its middle 3 km section will double up as a two-deck motorway to relieve traffic congestion at the main southern gateway into the city centre.

Mott MacDonald's work on the project was recognised in the 2005 Tunnelling Industry Awards, when the project team was presented with an award for Excellence in Tunnel Design. The Mott MacDonald team designed the tunnels and underground structures, the hydraulics and storm water control systems, and the road tunnel ventilation, lighting and communications for this very challenging project. In addition, Dave Park's team have been working with the concessionaire on site to assist and supervise construction and commissioning.

Ever since the capital was hit by widespread floods in 1971 the government has been implementing measures to increase the rivers' capacity for coping with flood waters from upstream. "But over time conventional methods such as channel widening and deepening had become inadequate and extensive urban development was making matters worse," adds Dave. "Detailed studies had led to the concept of a tunnel for stormwater storage and control – then at design stage came the novel idea of using it to tackle traffic congestion too as a Concession thus partially offsetting the cost to the Government." After approval by Malaysia's Government, development began in earnest by the MMC Engineering-Gamuda joint venture, with engineering support from SSP Consultants and Mott MacDonald.

Two of the biggest tunnel boring machines ever seen in SE Asia at 13.2m diameter were used to create the 11.8m internal diameter tunnel which will serve to divert flood waters in central Kuala Lumpur.

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