The Highways Department which evolved from the Highways Office of the former Engineering Development Department was established on 1 June 1986. It is responsible for planning, design, construction and maintenance of the public road system. The department is also responsible for planning and facilitating the implementation of the railway networks. The department's annual expenditure for the financial year 2011/12 was HK$22,833 million, of which HK$882 million was for road and public lighting maintenance and HK$21,951 million for major highway construction. The budget for the 2012/13 financial year is HK$29,718 million.
The Highways Department has a staff establishment of close to 500 professionals and 1,600 staff in other grades. The department consists of the Headquarters; two Regional Offices, namely Urban and the New Territories Regions; a Major Works Project Management Office; a HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge HK Project Management Office and a Railway Development Office.
The Headquarters has 7 divisions and 10 units which provide specialist services to other offices of the department. They are the Works Division, Bridges & Structures Division, Lighting Division, Research and Development Division, Survey Division, Departmental Administration Division, Accounting Services Division, Contract Advisory Unit, Technical Services Unit, Landscape Unit, Quality Management Unit, Public Relations Unit, Safety & Environmental Advisory Unit, Training Services Unit, Planning Unit, Geotechnical Advisory Unit, and Maintenance Accounts and Quantity Surveying Unit.
Two Regional Offices
The work of the two Regional Offices broadly falls into the following categories : district administration and highway maintenance. District administration involves giving advice on the roads aspects of land sales, government and private developments and the provision of access. Highway maintenance comprises maintenance of roads and street furniture and co-ordination of trench works by the utility operators.
Major Works Project Management Office
The Major Works Project Management Office is responsible for the implementation of major highway projects through in-house resources or consultants. The Central-Wan Chai Bypass and the Island Eastern Corridor Link, which is one of the major projects under the portfolio of the office, commenced in end 2009. The new road will be constructed as a 4.5 km long dual three-lane trunk road with a 3.7 km long tunnel linking up the Rumsey Street Flyover and the section of Island Eastern Corridor at North Point. Other projects under construction or with construction about to commence include Reconstruction and Improvement to Tuen Mun Road and the Traffic Improvements to Tuen Mun Road Town Centre Section, Widening of Fanling Highway between Tai Hang and Wo Hop Shek Interchange and part of Universal Accessibility Programme for existing public footbridges, elevated walkways and subways. Major projects under planning include Hiram’s Highway Improvement Stage 2, Central Kowloon Route, Widening of Castle Peak Road - Castle Peak Bay, Retrofitting of Noise Barriers on various road sections and the Universal Accessibility Programme for the remaining public footbridges, elevated walkways and subways.
HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge HK Project Management Office
The HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) HK Project Management Office is responsible for the planning and implementation of the HZMB and related highway infrastructure projects.
Externally, the office represents the Government of the HKSAR at joint working level meetings with the Guangdong and Macao authorities regarding the planning, design and implementation of the project. Internally, the office is responsible for the investigation, planning, design and implementation of the approach transport infrastructure for the HZMB. The office is also responsible for developing the overall development strategy for transport infrastructure of the North West New Territories.
Railway Development Office
The Railway Development Office is responsible for implementation of railway project and planning Hong Kong’s future railway expansion to support the continued population growth and economic development of the Territory. At present, the West Island Line (WIL), the Hong Kong Section of Guangzhou - Shenzhen - Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), the South Island Line East (SILE), the Kwun Tong Line Extension (KTE), and the Shatin to Central Link (SCL) are under construction and will be completed progressively between 2014 and 2020. The Office is now conducting a study to review and update the Railway Development Strategy (RDS) 2000. The target of the study is to formulate the territory-wide long-term railway development blueprint.
Links with Other Organizations
The Highways Department has close links with the Police and the Transport Department which are the agencies through which transport policy is enforced. The department also works closely with other departments such as the Water Supplies Department, Drainage Services Department, Civil Engineering and Development Department, Buildings Department, etc., regarding roads and associated drainage. In performing its administrative duties for trench works by the utility operators and building development works adjacent to public roads, the department has frequent and close contacts with the utility operators and Authorized Persons.