SINGAPORE - The Woodlands Checkpoint will be expanded to meet future traffic demand, and nine Housing Board blocks nearby will be acquired to make way for the massive redevelopment.
Blocks 210 to 218 at Marsiling Crescent and Marsiling Lane will be acquired, affecting 732 sold flats, 53 rental flats, one rental kiosk, six rental shops and one rental eating house, said HDB.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), which announced updated plans for the checkpoint on Thursday (May 26), said the expansion will address traffic congestion and meet a projected 40 per cent increase in traffic volumes by 2050.
In 2017, the ICA had said that the land checkpoint would be expanded to take in the Old Woodlands Town Centre.
The checkpoint has to be extended beyond Old Woodlands Town Centre, the authority said on Thursday, noting that travel volume at Woodlands has returned to more than 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels during weekends with the full reopening of land borders since April 1.
Traffic volume is expected to return to the daily average of 300,000 travellers soon, and will continue to increase thereafter to about 400,000 travellers a day by 2050, it added.
"If the overall capacity is not increased, the travel time for vehicular traffic could increase by more than 60 per cent to 70 per cent during peak periods by 2050," ICA said.
In a media briefing, ICA's deputy commissioner Hsu Sin Yun said: "The main aim of this extension of Woodlands Checkpoint is to bring the clearance time during peak hours from the 60 minutes pre-Covid-19 to 15 minutes eventually, even considering the increase in traffic that we project coming to the checkpoint."
He added that the expansion will be rolled out in phases, and be completed in 10 to 15 years' time.
The first phase will involve additional clearance lanes for lorries and motorcycles.
Subsequent extensions – including the eastern part of the current checkpoint – will cover other vehicles such as cars and buses, he said, adding that a detailed plan for the project is being developed.
An ICA spokesman said measures will be put in place to ensure there is minimal disruption to checkpoint operations when expansion works are under way.
HDB said flat owners at Blocks 212 to 218 will be offered the same benefits as those under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers), including compensation based on the market value of their flats and the option to buy a new flat with a fresh 99-year lease.
Residents will have to move out by the second quarter of 2028.
About 1,100 replacement flats will be built in Woodlands Street 13. Construction will begin in the third quarter of 2023 and should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2027.
HDB said this new precinct will comprise five residential blocks that are 23 to 24 storeys high, with a mix of two-room flexi, three-room, four-room and five-room flats.
A range of recreational and communal facilities, such as a children’s playground, adult and elderly fitness stations and pavilions will be provided, along with a childcare centre.
The new flats are located about 2km away from the old ones at Marsiling Crescent, and are about a 10-minute walk from Marsiling MRT station.
Residents who move to the new flats from the affected blocks will receive compensation based on the current market value of their flats, as well as other grants.
OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun said she expects most flat owners to opt for the new flats.
She noted that the median resale price for four-room flats in the first four months of this year is $378,000. In comparison, the overall median price for the same flat type in Woodlands is $448,000.
“If the affected flat owners were to take up the offer at the new site, the future resale price at the new site may potentially be higher than at the original site,” Ms Sun said.
Huttons Asia’s senior director of research Lee Sze Teck estimated that the replacement flats could start from $160,000 for three-room flats, from $260,000 for four-room flats and from $345,000 for five-room flats.
Mr Lee added it was a good opportunity for those living in the flats that are about 40 years old to move to new flats with fresh 99-year leases.
“The location of the replacement flats is much nearer to an MRT station, improving the accessibility for residents,” he said.
A study is ongoing to come up with an optimal design to clear heavy goods vehicles and motorcycles at the checkpoint, ICA said.
As part of the expansion, the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) will be extended and upgraded to channel traffic directly to and from the Old Woodlands Town Centre extension, the authority added.
The surrounding local road network will also be upgraded, it said.
ICA said the expansion is meant to provide adequate holding areas to contain traffic within the checkpoint, and reduce spillage to surrounding roads.
The extension also aims to significantly reduce travel time – in some cases it may fall to just a fourth of what it was – by incorporating greater automation and flexi-lanes that can be toggled to clear either cars or motorcycles.
It will also allow vehicle checks to be conducted in an area away from the main parts of the checkpoint, in a move to minimise potential damage to nearby developments in the event of vehicle bombings.