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In Paradise Low Profile Development is Preferred

Editorial: In Bali Tunnels May Cost More, But, in the Long Run, Prove the Best Solution to Traffic Congestion.

(7/5/2010) The publication in the Bali Post of bid invitations for design work for Bali's Simpang Siur flyover demonstrate that the national and Bali governments are prepared to move ahead with a project generally deemed essential in relieving the perpetual traffic jam of vehicles traveling from Bali's south to north.

No one can argue against the urgent need for changes in Bali's road system, particularly in the area surrounding the island's airport. We fear, however, that earlier suggestions that a series of underpasses and tunnels would represent a better solution have been too quickly dismissed on the pretext that flyovers cost less than tunnels and underpasses.

While only time will actually demonstrate the real cost of building the proposed flyovers at Simpang Siur, any comparative cost analysis of flyovers versus tunnels should also consider:

Aesthetic Values - Underpasses and tunnels are generally viewed as presenting a less developed and non-urban ambient. The cost of Bali maintaining its traditional culture identity should also be considered. Bali needs to look no further than Indonesia's capital of Jakarta to gain a glimpse of what the island might resemble once it is bisected by suspended roadways and overpasses.

Statues in Bali - Love them or hate them, part of Bali's unique countenance is comprised of the numerous Balinese statues that populate roadsides and intersections across the island. Zoning experts and legislators are now questioning if many of these statues might now need to be moved or eliminated to facilitate traffic flows. By taking busy traffic interchanges under ground, most of these statues could be left intact.

Land Acquisition Issues - In order to build flyovers and overpasses, substantial costs must be incurred securing land, typically in highly priced commercial areas. Arguably, by going underground, the amount of land needed for acquisition could be reduced.

Easier Construction - With areas like the Simpang Siur intersection suffering "near gridlock" conditions during certain periods, we're worried how a major road construction project, taking up to a year and one-half to complete, is going to add to an already intolerable traffic situation. And, try as we might, it's difficult to conceive what viable alternatives routes are available as "detours" during the coming construction phase. Hopefully, the construction of tunnels and underpasses would minimize further above-ground disruption of an already horrendous traffic situation.

While underpasses and tunnels may cost more to initially construct, they do represent current "best practice" solutions for road building as demonstrated in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Moreover, if seen in terms of preserving and regaining the natural beauty of a destination and the mitigation of less-obvious costs of constructing elevated roadways - going underground may still represents the best solution for Bali.

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