Both possible alignments for Cross Island MRT Line will be studied

View of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve from Jelutong Tower. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

We thank all writers who have shared their views on the two possible alignments of the Cross Island MRT Line (CRL).

The Government is studying both underground alignments, and no decision has been taken yet.

For the 4km direct alignment, 2km of the tunnel will be below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), while the other 2km is located outside it.

The section of the tunnel beneath the CCNR will be about 40m deep, depending on findings from ground investigations. There will not be any construction of infrastructure on the surface.

The skirting alignment, about 9km long, will require longer tunnels and extra ventilation facilities. Besides land and home acquisitions, that could affect families, the extra works could incur $2 billion more in expenditure.

The two alignments may have different impacts on various stakeholders - the nature reserve, businesses, home owners, commuters and taxpayers.

The Government has a responsibility to study both thoroughly before making a decision. Ground investigations and engineering feasibility studies of both alignments have to be completed first.

For the upcoming ground investigations, following our extensive consultations with nature groups for the first phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), we are reducing the number of 10cm boreholes from 72 to 16, and confining them to public trails and existing clearings.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will complement these with non-intrusive geophysical survey methods and horizontal directional coring that will start from outside the CCNR. Thus, no vegetation will be cleared.

National Parks Board staff will accompany the contractors and consultants during all off-trail works to ensure that the greatest care is taken to protect the CCNR.

In making the decision on the alignment, the Government will have to consider the full range of factors, including the engineering feasibility of both alignments, distance and travel time for commuters, cost to taxpayers, and the impact on the CCNR and on businesses and families who may be affected by land acquisition under the skirting option.

Indeed, since the gazette of the EIA, home owners have asked to meet the LTA, and voiced their concerns over possible acquisition of their homes. They urge the Government to be objective, and to also take into account their concerns.

In response to requests from the public, the findings of Phase 1 of the EIA have been made available on the LTA website. We thank the public for sharing their views, and we will take into account the diverse concerns of different stakeholders.

Chew Men Leong

Chief Executive

Land Transport Authority

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2016, with the headline Both possible alignments for Cross Island MRT Line will be studied. Subscribe