Saturday, 30 April 2016

Integrated North-South Corridor to be ready in 2026

Vehicles to run mainly underground, with lanes for buses; bike and pedestrian paths on surface
By Adrian Lim, The Straits Times, 29 Apr 2016

The North-South Corridor, the first expressway here to have dedicated bus lanes and a cycling route, is targeted to be ready in 2026.

Major construction work on the expressway, Singapore's first integrated transport corridor, will start next year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday. It will be calling several tenders on the planned corridor to link towns in the north to the city in the coming months.

The project was initially a vehicular expressway to be completed in 2020, but it was announced in January that the highway will be redesigned as the first integrated transport corridor here.

There will be cycling and pedestrian paths throughout the surface of the 21.5km expressway. Vehicles will ply mainly underground, on a highway which will have one of three lanes in each direction reserved for express bus services.

Said LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong: "The North-South Corridor underpins our commitment towards a car-lite Singapore, by optimising our land transport infrastructure to better meet the needs of all Singaporeans."

With the new corridor, bus passengers travelling from towns in the north, such as Woodlands, Sembawang or Ang Mo Kio, could have journeys to the city shortened by up to 30 minutes. Besides long-haul routes, inter-town bus services could also leverage on it.

Yesterday, the LTA said the corridor's cycling path will link up with existing cycling infrastructure, including the Park Connector Networks and dedicated cycling path networks in HDB estates.

To prepare to build the corridor, LTA said it has been conducting works to "set back the boundaries of affected properties" in the past two years.

As 21 partial lots were acquired in condominiums, schools and commercial properties, existing infrastructure in the properties - such as perimeter walls, fences and drains - had to make way for the corridor.

The North-South Corridor will run though heavily used roads and built-up areas, making its construction more complex, said an LTA spokesman.

An advance engineering study completed last year highlighted "major challenges" for construction work at sections of the corridor's tunnel close to MRT lines, for instance.



The corridor will also be built close to road infrastructure such as the Marymount Flyover and Ophir Flyover, where traffic diversion on temporary structures and reconstruction of the flyovers are required, the spokesman added.

The LTA said "more sophisticated construction methods" will be used but did not elaborate.

While the authority did not say how much the reconfigured North-South Corridor would cost, estimates in 2008 pegged it between $7 billion and $8 billion.

The building of the corridor will be "intense", said Mr Chong Kee Sen, president of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, as its tunnels will be close to existing infrastructure along the entire stretch. "We just have to proceed carefully."





 


Faster bus rides to city from the north with North-South Corridor
By Adrian Lim and Alexis Ong, The Straits Times, 29 Apr 2016

Residents in the northern part of the island can enjoy speedier bus rides to the city, when the 21.5km North-South Corridor is ready by around 2026.

One of three lanes on each side of the expressway will be reserved for express bus services, reducing bus journey times by up to 30 minutes, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday.

A bus service now takes 60 to 70 minutes to get from Woodlands to the Central Business District (CBD). With an express bus service on the upcoming corridor, the journey will take just 30 to 40 minutes.

Bus commuters living in the north welcomed news of the new corridor, which links towns in the north to the CBD.

Some said they may even take the bus to the city instead of the MRT in future.

Ms Koh Cai Ni, 20, a part-time retail assistant, now takes the MRT from her home in Yishun to the city, which takes about 45 minutes.

"If (travel time is) really shorter, I might switch to buses. Plus, it may be cheaper," she said.

Teaching assistant Betsy Lim, 49, said it takes about 45 minutes to go from her home in Hougang to Orchard. "The dedicated lanes for buses will be good, especially in the morning during peak hours, as the buses can avoid traffic jams."

However, Ms Cynthia Lim, 19, who is waiting to enter university, said the wait for express bus services tends to be longer, which may not amount to time savings.

"So even if travel time is shorter, the waiting time might make it the same," she said.

The LTA also said yesterday that inter-town bus services could leverage on the corridor.

Residents in Woodlands, Sembawang and Yishun, for example, could have faster bus connections to towns such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.

Mr Marcus Heng, 21, a polytechnic graduate, said it takes him about 45 minutes to get from his home in Bishan to places like Woodlands and Sembawang.

"I think it'll be useful, especially for full-time national servicemen going home from the Yishun and Sembawang camps," he said.

Along with dedicated bus lanes, a cycling path stretching the entire length of the corridor will be built. It will be linked to other cycling infrastructure along the corridor, such as park connector networks.

Said Ms Betsy Lim: "The cycling track is a good move to encourage people to keep fit. Some may even choose to cycle to work in the city."


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