Fireworks light up the sky as the Premier officially opens the bridge.
THOUSANDS converged on Batu Maung town on Penang island to witness a historical moment — the opening of the iconic second Penang bridge.
The crowd cheered as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the bridge had been named Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.
Fireworks lit up the island-bound side of the bridge all the way to its mid-span for a good five minutes after Najib conducted the launching.
He then boarded an open-top double-decker bus with his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the rest of his entourage and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to embark on a ‘historical journey’ to Batu Kawan on the mainland and back to the island.
Joining them were former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah and former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
The bridge was supposed to be opened to the public by 12.01am on Saturday but was delayed for an hour due to the cleaning up of fireworks debris.
Newly married couple Stanley Goh and Jann Kaw, both 29, from Nibong Tebal arrived at 8pm at the tollbooth.
“We were born in the year 1985 when the first bridge was built and as such we want to make sure we are the early birds to cross the second bridge and receive the certificate,” said Goh.
Dr G. P. Doraisamy, 58, a lawyer, and his wife Dr K. Sithra Devi, 53, both arrived at the tollbooth at about 10pm.
“We are really excited about the bridge being the longest in South-East Asia and wanted to cross on the first day itself after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak opens it.”
He said the second bridge opening was appropriate as it co-incided with Visit Malaysia Year 2014 and could attract more tourists to Penang.
“This is going to bring revenue to Penang and also Malaysia to further improve our nation’s economy,” added Doraisamy.
A Jom Riuh carnival took place in Batu Maung near the bridge from 10am earlier in the day to mark the significant milestone. It was officially opened in the afternoon by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas.
The crowd began to swell in the evening with many visiting the booths set up at the site and watching the stage performances.
The 24km bridge, which spans 16.9km over the sea, is the longest bridge in South-East Asia. The bridge, which links Batu Kawan on the mainland to Batu Maung on the island, has two car lanes and a designated motorcycle lane on each side.
It will take about 30 minutes to cross the bridge at a speed of 80kph.
It was previously reported that the bridge can cater to 100,000 vehicles per hour and is expected to reduce traffic congestion on the current Penang Bridge by 25% to 30%. It is 10.5km longer than the first bridge.
The Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge is also an achiever of many firsts and accolades in the country.
It is the first bridge in Malaysia to conduct a load test and the first bridge to be installed with rubber absorbers. It was also presented the Green Apple Award in June 2013 and appointed Green World Ambassador by The Green Organisation, UK, for its green efforts.
Its 28-booth PLUS toll plaza in Bandar Cassia, the largest in the country, received the gold certification from the Green Building Index while the PB2X Toll Plaza complex in Batu Kawan has earned the platinum Green Building Index certification, being the first building in Penang to obtain the platinum certification.
Apart from using the Industrialised Building Systems, the building incorporates passive architecture to reduce energy requirements, a rain water harvesting system for internal use, application of renewable energy source such as the wind turbines and solar panels on top of its building to generate electricity.