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Bali Traffic Debate: Over or Under?

Lines Being Drawn on Whether Bali will Build Overpasses or Underpasses to Overcome Traffic Jams in Kuta.

(9/4/2010) The national news agency Antara reports that Bali's Badung regency is refusing provincial plans to build a flyover at the Dewa Ruci monument (Simpang Siur), threatening the cancellation or delay of a project widely seen as essential to addressing Bali's severe traffic congestion.

The Secretary of Commission II of the Bali provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), I Gusti Made Suryantha Putra, said, "if we don't find a solution soon it will mean that the construction of the flyover, which is scheduled to go out to bidders in September 2010, will be postponed.

Suryantha Putra asked that the project not become bogged down by this latest development, calling on the provincial government to coordinate with the regency of Badung to sort out any potential stumbling blocks. "Don't play power games," he cautioned.

The legislator said that if the flyover project is not undertaken, Bali is likely never again to obtain similar prestigious projects funded from the Central Government because of the inability of large projects in Bali to overcome local obstacles. In making his point, he pointed to failed electrical generation and geothermal energy projects.

Puzzled by the seeming power play between the regency and provincial governments in Bali, Surtantha Putra lamented: "This is all for the improvement of Bali's economy. Again, let's not play power games."

He said that if the Badung regency has genuine objections to the building of the flyover, they should formally table those objections. "And, if need be, change the detailed engineering plans to address those objections, providing such changes do not substantively change the project," he explained.

In a separate report in Radar Bali, the crux of the impasse confronting the proposed new roads to overcome Bali's traffic congestion was revealed to be the Bandung regency's desire to see only underpasses built to facilitate traffic flows as opposed to more unsightly overpasses.

In a meeting held on September 1, 2010, the Regent of Badung, Anak Agung Gde Agung, called on Jakarta to reconsider plans to construct overpasses or flyovers near the Dewa Ruci monument, preferring underpasses in order to preserve Bali's natural beauty.

The regency government is also lobbying for permission to build roads through the environmentally protected mangrove swamps near the busy intersection, claiming the new underpasses alone will be insufficient to overcome traffic problems.