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Competition threat raises bankruptcy fear for Hong Kong toll road

A HONG Kong toll road operator is trying to block construction of a publicly funded road which it claims could destroy its income force it into bankruptcy.

The operator says the new road, which runs virtually parallel to the existing road, will take traffic away from the tolled section. This route has already failed to meet traffic forecasts.

At the centre of the row is a section of the £2.1bn Route 10 expressway between North Lantau and the north west New Territories.

It will run parallel to a privately financed 10km section of Route 3, which includes a toll financed tunnel operated under a 30 year concession.

British consultants Mott Connell and Maunsell Consultants are finalising designs for the parallel road, which runs from So Kwun Wat in the northern New Territories to the north coast of Lantau Island via a new suspension bridge.

Mott Connell is overseeing the Tsing Lung Tau to So Kwun Wat section in the north west New Territories, while Maunsell's portion includes the Tsing Lung suspension.

But the Highways Department has received more than 500 objections to the project.

Opponents include Route 3 (CPS) Company, which operates the tolled section of Route 3. It is owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties, one of Hong Kong's leading development firms, and mainland Chinese banking and travel organisations.

'Route 10 would be a parallel route encouraging drivers to shift away from our toll highway to a free government route. We could go bankrupt. We have lost HK$800M (£70M) in two years (as toll revenue has failed to meet expectations), ' said a senior Route 3 (CPS) executive.

About 45,000 vehicles a day use the tolled section compared with its design capacity of 140,000 vehicles.

Route 10 is intended to provide a fast western connection to the planned Disney theme park on Lantau.

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