The Penang Bridge project was the original idea of the second Malaysian Prime Minister, The late YAB Tun Abdul Razak bin Dato’ Hussain and the planning commenced in 1960. The success for the project was ensured by detained pans and careful research. In 1971, the Government of Malaysia recognized that to realize the potential economic growth in the State of Penang, a fixed link between the Island and the mainland should be constructed.
The decision to commence construction was made by YAB Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad, the fourth Malaysian Prime Minister in 1982 and Tun Dr mahathir bin Mohamad officially visited the bridge..
Taking almost 3¾ years to complete, the bridge was officially opened to the traffic on 14th September 1985 by the Deputy Prime Minister, YAB Tun Musa bin Hitam. Being one of famous landmark in the country, Penang Bridge has contributed significantly to the socio-economic, cultural and social development of Penang State since its operation in 1985.
The bridge comprises the construction of a high level bridge of a Cable-Stayed Concrete Girder type was built by the Government in 1982 at a total cost of RM800 million (excluding the cost of land acquisition).
Constructed with a 6.2 km dual lane carriageway and 2.2 km three lane carriageway for the middle span, the bridge embrace 3 interchanges with the 13.5km length, comprises 8.4 km of bridge structure over water, 1.5 km of viaduct and roadway approach on the Penang Island side and 3.6 km of approach roadway on the Perai side.
This Bridge is the only physical link between the Mainland of Peninsular Malaysia and Penang Island. Seen from the Penang Island interchange, the channel crossing consists of elevated bridge structures known as “Cable Stayed Concrete Girders”.
Due to Penang Bridge’s distinctive design and features, it has been awarded the Grand Award in the United States of America Engineering Excellence Competition sponsored by the Council of Consulting Engineers, Washington in 1986 and the FIABCI Special Award (Development and Construction Phase Category) from the International Real Estate Federation of Malaysia in 1993.
The limited capacity of the Penang Bridge is fast becoming a constraint to further development of the Penang State as a regional and international industrial, commercial and tourism center. This will be accompanied by a commensurate increase in traffic volume on the road.
The bridge was not sufficient to cope with the increase in traffic flow. Realizing the important of providing pleasant journey to bridge commuters, the bridge widening initiatives were undertaken by PBSB to accommodate the increase in traffic volume which has reached its maximum capacity of 120,000 vehicles per day.
In year 2004, the upgrading works for the bridge widening from dual lane carriageway to three lane carriageways for both Penang and Perai bound was undertaken by PBSB.
The project was successfully completed in August 2009 and was officially launched by the Minister of Works, YB Dato’ Shaziman Abu Mansor on 13 August 2009.