The Bayan Lepas Expressway flyover under construction will be closed every weekend starting today. from 11pm Friday until 5.30am Monday. The closure is expected to last for two weeks to enable concreting works to be completed. Pix by Zulaikha Zainuzman

GEORGE TOWN: The under-construction Bayan Lepas Expressway (BLE) will be closed every weekend, starting 11pm on Friday to 5.30am on Monday, to enable concreting works to be done on a flyover linking the expressway to the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge.

The state government has ordered a 54.5-hour weekly closure of a portion of the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway — which the BLE is part of — for at least two weekends, subject to changes and the alternative traffic flow condition.

Construction of the flyover, dubbed a “special span”, has fallen behind schedule, as the state government closed the flyover section only from 11pm to 5.30am daily.

Public Works Department (PWD) senior manager (road section) Datuk Dr Hasnul Mohd Salleh said with the partial closure, the expected completion of the flyover was August next year.

Hasnul said if the full weekend closure of the expressway was to continue, the flyover would be completed in January next year.

“We have taken precautions to ensure road users’ safety,” he said yesterday.

It was reported that tempers flared as thousands of motorists were stuck in massive traffic jams because of the closure of several stretches along the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on Aug 17.

Some people claimed that the gridlock caused their usual 10-minute drive to work to be a whopping three hours instead.

As a result, several factories in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone (FIZ) claimed that more than half of their workers were late for work, hundreds of children were late for school, and more than 100 people missed their flights out of the Penang International Airport

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had issued a stop-work order to smoothen traffic flow.

Meanwhile, Hasnul said his team would liaise with a panel of independent expert engineers, appointed by the state government, as well as a special engineer panel made up of main contractor UEM Builders Bhd to comply with safety requirements.

The state government’s engineers panel has also joined hands with PWD’s independent checking engineer to compel UEM Builders to adhere to safety measures, while constructing the special span.

The BLE, linking Batu Maung to Sungai Nibong, is a RM337-million two-year PWD project that started on April 1 last year. It is slated for completion on March 31 next year.