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MCE opening: Avoid using the expressway if you are heading east during the evening peak

Published on Dec 30, 2013 3:20 PM

The newly-opened Marina Coastal Expressway's acronym may well stand for "Messy Confusing Expressway".

On the first work day since the $4.3 billion undersea highway opened on Sunday, motorists found themselves caught in traffic snarls of a scale uncommon in Singapore.

Tweets and Facebook posts flew fast and furious, with one taxi commuter complaining that she had to fork out $60 in fare because of the jam - for a journey that usually cost her $16.

When The Straits Times checked during lunch time Monday, traffic flow was smooth in the north-south stretch, where the MCE joins the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE).

Heavy traffic and traffic jam along the Marina Coastal Expressway photographed on Dec 30, 2013, in the late morning to noon. -- ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

But there were obvious problem areas where it joined the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE).

Motorists on the ECP heading for the AYE have to negotiate a sharp left to enter the MCE. This caused many to apply their brakes or slow down, causing a minor queue to form there.

Traffic signs at the entrance may have contributed to the problem. A sign above one lane read "MCE to AYE", while the another in the adjacent lane read "MCE to Central Boulevard". This caused more weaving and braking.

Eastbound, traffic slowed to a trickle at the Fort Road exit. Most of the vehicles in the MCE in this section seem headed for the exit, which has only two lanes (out of the total five).

Further up the exit, a third lane forms that leads to Fort Road, which had a queue stretching all the way into the tunnel. The tailback affected traffic flow on the other lanes leading to Changi.

Clearly inadequate in coping with the noon-time traffic volume, the exit caused a jam that spread to lanes leading to the KPE.

Motorists heading for the ECP via the MCE after work this evening should brace themselves for a repeat of Monday morning's saga. They may want to find alternatives (such as the Pan-Island Expressway), or travel later.