Works minister to launch SUKE highway tomorrow night, will announce Phase 1 opening date, toll fares

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The Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) will open to the public very soon. How soon? Senior works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof will officiate the new RM5.7 billion highway tomorrow night (September 15), and at the launch event, he will announce the time and date that Phase 1 of the SUKE will open to the public.

Will there be a toll-free introductory period? We’ll know tomorrow night, including the toll fares for the 24.4 km highway connecting Sungai Besi to Ulu Kelang in the Klang Valley.

By the way, when SUKE opens to the public in the very near future, only the fully-completed Phase 1 will be accessible. We sampled this stretch in a media briefing today, from the unmissable signature Cheras-Kajang interchange to the Bukit Antarabangsa end point. The portion from Sri Petaling (Kesas, where Endah Parade is) to Cheras-Kajang will open at a later date.

The Cheras-Kajang interchange is near Plaza Phoenix and features Malaysia’s first helicoidal ramp. From the Cheras-Kajang Expressway (CKE) a.k.a Grand Saga, you enter SUKE via a spiral that goes two loops before you reach the top and join the highway – this reminds me of Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge and some bridges in China.

This spiral ramp a novelty, but it was done out of necessity. The SUKE is at its highest point when it crosses the CKE and MRT Kajang Line, and a direct and straight ramp would be way too steep. The typical highway interchange loop as seen on the PLUS and elsewhere requires a big piece of land. From above, you can see that the helicoidal ramp is bound by a condominium block and a landed housing area with not a lot of buffer – this was the only way.

Speaking of height, Cheras and Kajang residents would know how high the SUKE section that crosses the CKE is. At 56.4 metres tall, equivalent to an 18-storey building, this is actually the third highest elevated road in Malaysia, after Penang’s Bukit Kukus paired road and the Rawang Bypass. I’d say that this is more dramatic than those two roads as there’s a busy highway and train line underneath. The elevated segmented box girder that spans the crossing is also the highest superstructure so far in Malaysia – again, this was out of necessity.

As you head towards Ampang from the CKE interchange, the KL skyline is on your left, and the hills are on your right. One particular section – Tasik Tambahan – is perfect for an R&R area, and indeed, this is in Prolintas’ plans. The elevated site on the hill has been earmarked, and the eventual facility will have F&B outlets. Think of this as a “SUKE Lookout Point”, a breezy hang out spot with a panoramic view of KL.

Another unique SUKE feature is at the Jalan Ampang area, where the bifurcated (split) structure design allows sunlight to reach through to the Ampang River, which has also been straightened. Sunlight is necessary for a healthy river ecosystem, so this is a good move even if it costs more. Under the highway structure is a linear park with a 1.6 km jogging trail. If I remember correctly, there’s a stretch on the AKLEH (near the Saloma Bridge) that also features split roads with the river in the middle, and AKLEH is also a Prolintas highway.

Last but not least in the list of unique SUKE features is the imposing double-deck structure at Alam Damai in Cheras, where each tier heads in a different direction. We didn’t get to see this for ourselves up close as this structure is in Phase 2, which will open at a later date.

SUKE has 14 interchanges along its 24.4 km main line length (57.7 km if one includes all the interchanges), and these are Sri Petaling, Sungai Besi, Alam Damai, Cheras-Kajang, Cheras-Hartamas, Bukit Teratai, Tasik Tambahan, Permai, Kosas, Pekan Ampang, Ampang Point, Ulu Kelang, Hillview and Bukit Antarabangsa. As mentioned, the stretch that will be opened very soon is from Cheras-Kajang to Bukit Antarabangsa.

The usefulness of a highway also depends on how it connects with existing highways and trunk roads, and SUKE is very connected. The Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2) alternative is linked to the said ring road, Kesas (at Sri Petaling), KL-Seremban Highway, Sungai Besi Expressway (Besraya), Grand Saga, Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH) and the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE). The future East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) will also be linked.

The highway has three toll plazas – Alam Damai, Bukit Teratai and Ampang. The latter two are in the first phase that will be opened soon. Fares? We’ll know tomorrow night.

According to Prolintas group CEO Datuk Mohammad Azlan Abdullah, SUKE is an effective traffic dispersal solution for the eastern part of KL that is projected to relieve traffic on the MRR2 by 30%, Jalan Ampang by 36% and Jalan Loke Yew by 12% during peak hours. Those three roads are notorious for traffic jams, and if the projections are accurate, everyone benefits.

SUKE, which is 90% elevated, has to be one of the most fascinating highways in Malaysia, and I had my face glued to the bus windows the whole time. Driving enthusiasts will also be salivating; just look at those curves. We tried our best to capture the new highway in all its empty glory – check out our drone shots of the SUKE’s helicoidal ramp at the Cheras-Kajang interchange as well as the scenic “lookout point” where the future R&R will be at.

Stay tuned for the opening date and fares. For now, more on the SUKE here. Check out the map – will this new highway fit into your daily commute? If yes, how?

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