Thumbs up for Downtown Line's earlier opening

Businesses near the upcoming Sixth Avenue MRT station are glad the Downtown Line is opening earlier than expected, and hope they can keep the frontyard parking for their customers.
Businesses near the upcoming Sixth Avenue MRT station are glad the Downtown Line is opening earlier than expected, and hope they can keep the frontyard parking for their customers.ST PHOTO: CHANG MAY CHOON

Residents, businesses and schools welcome the earlier-than-expected opening of Downtown Line Stage 2 by the first quarter of 2016, but hope that speed would not come at the expense of quality.

The opening of the new MRT line, which was delayed from late-2015 to mid-2016 when a contractor went bust last year, links Bukit Panjang to Marina Bay through the Bukit Timah corridor. Two new contractors have since ramped up work to make up for lost time.

"Rather than finish earlier, they should make sure that everything is tested well before opening the line," said Miss Jasline Foo, senior optometrist at optical shop My Eye Room, located near Hillview MRT station in Upper Bukit Timah Road.

Administrator Melody Lee, whose office is near Hillview station, said: "I hope they have learnt their lessons well from other MRT breakdowns."

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew earlier assured the public that new contractors are working round the clock to bring forward the completion date, but "all this acceleration must be done without compromising safety standards".

Businesses that have been badly affected by the construction that began in 2009 are counting down to the line's opening.

A number of shops near Sixth Avenue station have opened and closed, unable to keep their businesses afloat during the construction.

Mr Evan Ong, manager of Living Cafe & Deli, said weekday business has dropped by 40 per cent since the construction began. Joggers who used to stop by for a drink disappeared because of the dust and noise.

There is now some concern among the businesses over the removal of their frontyard parking for customers. They have petitioned the Urban Redevelopment Authority to be allowed to keep it.

Down the road, Hwa Chong Institution said it is looking forward to its students and staff being able to use the Tan Kah Kee station. With quite a few schools in the area, it can be congested with cars in the morning when children are being dropped off.

Residents are also looking forward to fewer road diversions, and less noise and dust.

Mr Kelvin Tan 45, who lives at Linear condominium near Bukit Panjang station, said the U-turn near his home has been moved a number of times.

But he added that the Land Transport Authority had warned them of the drilling works, road diversions and had even built a temporary sound barrier.

"I'm looking forward to the MRT; hopefully it will bring up the value of my property. But I pray it won't be like the Circle Line which keeps breaking down," he said.

changmc@sph.com.sg