Singapore

New Bukit Panjang underpass delayed

A new underpass that will give residents in surrounding HDB blocks fully sheltered access to Bukit Panjang MRT station will be delayed, owing to "difficult ground conditions".

Originally slated to open together with Downtown Line 2 in December 2015, the station's third entrance will now be completed only by year end.

A Land Transport Authority spokesman said construction took longer than planned "due to extensive underground utilities and difficult ground conditions, such as the presence of high rock levels".

The hard rocks meant that blasting had to be carried out.

The 100m-long linkway when open will give commuters all-weather access to and from the station. Currently, they have to use a signallised crossing at the junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Woodlands Road or an overhead pedestrian bridge nearby.

The underpass links a cluster of blocks of flats in Senja Road to the Bukit Panjang MRT station, which is also linked to the Hillion shopping mall.

The new underpass was not planned together with the Downtown Line project, and work on it was started in 2014.

On average, an MRT station in Singapore has fewer than half the number of entrances that an MTR station in Hong Kong has.

The construction of the underpass came after about two years of lobbying by residents through Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MPs Liang Eng Hwa and Vivian Balakrishnan.

Said Mr Liang: "We certainly hope it will be completed soon, but we also want it to be done well and done safely."

Being an add-on project, Mr Liang said the construction is more challenging than if it had been built along with the station. He also noted that it is causing traffic congestion.

Because of the construction, "it's not a straight road, and that does slow down traffic".

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