A bridge too far now for Balestier Road residents after excavator damaged overhead crossing

The damaged bridge as seen at around 7.30am on Saturday (July 22).
The damaged bridge as seen at around 7.30am on Saturday (July 22). ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening.
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening. ST PHOTO: JOSE HONG
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening.
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening. ST PHOTO: JOSE HONG
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening.
A trailer carrying an excavator crashed into a pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road on Friday (July 21) evening. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/GANESAN PALANI
The incident caused part of Balestier Road to be closed, with traffic towards Lavender diverted to Rangoon Road.
The incident caused part of Balestier Road to be closed, with traffic towards Lavender diverted to Rangoon Road. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
The incident caused part of Balestier Road to be closed, with traffic towards Lavender diverted to Rangoon Road.
The incident caused part of Balestier Road to be closed, with traffic towards Lavender diverted to Rangoon Road. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Work is underway at around 2am on July 22, 2017 to set up road barriers and clear tree branches.
Work is underway at around 2am on July 22, 2017 to set up road barriers and clear tree branches. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Half the overhead pedestrian bridge, which is about three road lanes in length, being removed just before 5am on July 22, 2017.
Half the overhead pedestrian bridge, which is about three road lanes in length, being removed just before 5am on July 22, 2017. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - On Friday, his wife was wondering aloud if a lift should be built at the overhead pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road, but by Saturday (July 22) morning, the bridge was gone.

"It was a very useful bridge. My wife who is 65 and suffers from knee pains was just suggesting to me that a lift should be built for the overhead bridge," said Mr Natarajan, 71, who   goes by only one name, told The Straits Times.

"But now we have no more bridge."

The retiree, who has has been living in McNair Road for 10 years, said he uses the bridge every day to cross the road towards  Tekka Market, but will now have to walk an extra 10 minutes to the traffic crossing down the road.

The pedestrian bridge along Balestier Road near Tessensohn Road was damaged, and later removed, after the arm of an excavator being ferried on a trailer crashed into it on Friday around 9.30pm.

In a Facebook update on Saturday morning, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the beams of the damaged structure had to be removed in an overnight operation because the structural integrity of the bridge had been compromised.

"To ensure safety and facilitate recovery works, the affected lanes along Balestier Road were temporarily closed to traffic last night," wrote the LTA.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said its engineers who responded to the incident found the bridge to be in a dangerous condition.

The Professional Engineer (PE) appointed by the owner on the advise of BCA recommended to remove the entire pedestrian overhead bridge spanning across both sides of the road. 

Both the 57-year-old trailer driver and his 59-year-old employer have been arrested in connection with the accident, police said in a statement early Saturday morning.

This was the first time since 2010 that LTA had to remove the horizontal beams of a pedestrian bridge due to damage from a vehicle.

Recovery works have been completed and the affected stretch of Balestier Road was opened to traffic at around 7.30am on Saturday.

All that is left of the bridge is its middle pylon and staircase structures, which have been cordoned off.

 
 
 

Without the pedestrian bridge, several other residents say they will have to walk an extra five to 10 minutes to cross the road at the Serangoon Road traffic junction or the overhead crossing near the Moulmein Flyover.

Another resident, Madam Ang Suan Choo who is in her 60s, said the bridge was built even before the flats in the area more than 30 years ago.

She uses the bridge on the way home from work every day as a supermarket cashier in Jalan Besar, but will now have to walk an extra 100m to the next overhead bridge.

"They took down the damaged bridge very quickly, I hope they replace it soon. Last night I had to walk one big round after they cordoned off the area, I took an extra 15min to get home and my legs hurt after that," she said in Mandarin.

Similarly, Mr Natarajan said: "I hope it can be repaired fast because there are quite a few old people in this estate and it would be hard on them to walk further just to cross the road."