$10b Bridge Best Option for Linking Java, Sumatra, Says Government

By webadmin on 12:13 am Nov 19, 2009
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Dion Bisara

The government has decided that a bridge is the most feasible of three options for connecting Java and Sumatra, paving the way for construction of the $10 billion Sunda Strait bridge to proceed, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision removes at least some of the uncertainty over the fate of the bridge, which would connect the country’s two most populous islands.

Last week, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said the government was still considering the tunnel, while Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono said in September, when he was deputy to the coordinating minister, that improving ferry services might be the answer.

However, Hermanto Dardak, the newly appointed deputy minister of public works, said on Tuesday that it had been decided that the bridge was the solution for linking the islands.

“The Sunda Strait is a 150-meter-deep ocean trench. So considering the potential dangers from earthquakes, the bridge option was selected for safety reasons. It is also better as rail services can be accommodated,” he said. “If we opted for a tunnel, capacity would be severely limited.”

Hermanto said a presidential decree would be issued establishing a committee to oversee a feasibility study.

Marzan Aziz Iskandar, head of the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), agreed that a bridge was the best option.

“We are quite familiar with bridge technology, compared with tunnels, with which we have little experience. Indonesia can avail itself of the expertise gained during the building of the Suramadu Bridge [linking Surabaya and Madura] and a bridge in Batam.”

The Banten and Lampung provincial governments, which initiated the Sunda Strait bridge proposal, can now breath a little easier as observers had warned that central government support would be essential if there was to be any realistic prospect of it ever being built.

PT Bangungraha Sejahtera Mulia, a subsidiary of Artha Graha Networks, has already completed a preliminary study on the project’s viability.

The BSM study calls for a 30-kilometer bridge spanning the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra. The project would consist of a series of spans carrying a six-lane highway and double-track railway via the islands of Prajurit, Sangiang and Ular.

The longest span is projected to be about three km in length, more than 50 percent longer than the main span of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, the longest suspension bridge in the world.