Mong Kok pedestrians will be forced to use a new Nathan Road footbridge instead of street-level crossings, Transit Jam has learned, with Transport Department (TD) confirming at-grade crossings will be “permanently closed” to make way for more traffic.
Two sets of signalled road crossings across Nathan Road had been barricaded shut during engineering works for the long-planned footbridge at Mong Kok Road, leading to lengthy detours for people wishing to walk across the junction without falling foul of the city’s colonial-era jaywalking laws.
The crossings were briefly restored when the footbridge was opened in September last year but the government now says the bridge opening is an “opportunity” to shutter them for good.
“Since the traffic at the junction of Mong Kok Road and Nathan Road is heavy, TD made use of the opportunity to remove these two pedestrian crossings … to avoid the vehicle-pedestrian conflicts at the crossings and to enhance the traffic circulation through optimisation of the traffic light signal arrangement and enhancement of the throughput of the junction,” a spokesman said today.
The government says the plans will “strike a balance on traffic needs” and help “alleviate the traffic situation” in Mong Kok.
The closure, already in effect, will be permanent, says a spokesperson.
TD last year ignored questions from Yau Tsim Mong District Councillor Lee Wai-fung on its plans for the crossings. But government data supplied to Lee showed around 2,700 people an hour used the two street-level crossings during the evening peak in November 2021, against 1,910 people an hour using the new footbridge.
The barricaded crossing ends Nathan Road’s 3.4 km at-grade run from The Peninsula Hotel to Boundary Street and is further bad news for Mong Kok pedestrians, following the closure of a major pedestrianisation zone, Sai Yeung Choi Street South, several years ago.
That zone had been plagued with noise problems – experts studying the issue said regulation was required to manage the many street performers competing for volume, but in May 2018 the Yau Tsim Mong District Council voted to restore the street to motor vehicles.
Three years on, the former pedestrian zone is amost permanently gridlocked with illegal parking and private car traffic.