The Hong Kong government has confirmed that tenders will be invited for more than US$2bn of road and rail tunnels. Contracts will be awarded over the next three years.

The expressway projects are being handled by the major works division, headed by Robert Lloyd, in the Hong Kong Highways Depart-ment. The largest tranche is earmarked for the long delayed US$900m Central-Wanchai bypass and Eastern Corridor Link, which has been held up for three years in a row over harbour reclamation.

The wrangle was resolved earlier this year when the government agreed to scale back the proposed infill scheme by more than 40%. This has cleared the way for the bypass to go-ahead.

The US$100m first phase will kick off towards the end of this year, when tenders are invited for the tunnel section within the CBD reclamation on Hong Kong Island. The contract is due to be awarded early next year.The huge US$500m second phase will begin in late 2002 when tenders are called ready for an early 2003 construction start. Work will involve formation of the tunnel structure within the Wanchai reclamation.

Some US$300m worth of associated work, including an interchange; tunnel power; communications; fire safety; and general M&E services and ancillary services, will begin in 2004 and 2007.

Tenders will also be invited in 2002 for the US$400m Central Kowloon Route in Kowloon being designed by Atkins China with Mouchel Asia. The scheme, a dual two-lane tunnel under the former airport at Kai Tak, will have a novel double-deck portal.Other tunnelling schemes involve the US$400m Nam Wan Tunnel, part of the US$1bn Route 9 link between Tsing Yi and Cheung Sha Wan, plus up to US$300m of new work on West Rail

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation plans to invite bids between now and Dec 2000 for various tunnel supply contracts worth between US$50m-$300m. The deals include ventilation; communications; fire protection; and associated work, together with platform screen doors.