Excavator arm crashes into overhead bridge along Balestier Road; trailer driver and employer arrested

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

SINGAPORE - Both sides of Balestier Road opened to traffic on Saturday (July 22) morning, after parts of a damaged pedestrian bridge were removed. 

The arm of an excavator being ferried on a trailer had crashed into the overhead pedestrian bridge on Friday (July 21) night. 

In a statement on their Facebook page on Saturday morning, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the incident had compromised the structural integrity of the bridge. "Hence, we had to remove the beams of the damaged structure for safety reasons."

It advised pedestrians to use alternative signalised and pedestrian crossings provided in the vicinity to cross the road safely. Signs have been put up on site to guide pedestrians, it said.

Photos that first circulated on social media showed the excavator’s arm lodged in the bridge following the collision. 

The impact appeared to have caused part of the bridge to be misaligned, and the railings to be dislodged. Debris was also strewn all over the road. 

 

LTA was alerted at 9.55pm and that the excavator was not fully retracted while being transported on the trailer. 

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. 

The driver's driving licence has also been suspended with immediate effect. No one was injured in the accident near the Singapore Indian Association, which eyewitnesses said occurred sometime around 9.30pm. 

Part of Balestier Road between McNair Road and Serangoon Road was closed to traffic until the bridge was removed. 


Work is underway at around 2am on July 22, 2017 to set up road barriers and clear tree branches. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR 

LTA added that its officers were on site to assess the extent of the damage and to carry out the necessary rectification works. 

When ST arrived at the scene at about 10.40pm, traffic towards Lavender was seen being diverted to Rangoon Road. LTA staff were also spotted at the site.

In the wee hours of Saturday (July 22), about 30 men were seen setting up road barriers and clearing tree branches at the accident site. They then worked on removing the overhead pedestrian bridge in stages, with only the stairs and middle pillar left intact at 5.45am.


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 

Mr Jordan Lee, director of crane company Sin Demag, said the bridge had to be taken down before the excavator could be removed. 

Lawyer Christabel Seah's 30-year-old fiance - who declined to be named - told ST he witnessed the accident, which took place outside Ms Seah's home. 

"There was a very loud noise. Lots of rocks and dust falling. The bridge moved and then stood still," he said. 

"I think the truck was driving at average speed, wasn't over-speeding. I saw that the bridge was moving a bit and then the truck stood still. The driver ran out of the car and was definitely in deep shock."

IT engineer Muhd Saadhiq Kuthubdeen, 24, saw the accident unfold as he was heading to the Singapore Indian Association. He pulled over immediately, and he saw someone emerge from the vehicle looking dazed.

Ms Gwyneth Teo, 27, was walking along Tessensohn Road at about 10.20pm when she saw that the road had been blocked off to traffic.

"There were strips of tape blocking Balestier Road off... and police were telling people to not go near," said Ms Teo, a freelance television producer. She was heading to Boon Keng MRT at the time.

SBS transit tweeted at 10.28pm that bus services 21, 125, 130, 139 and 145 had been diverted because of the accident.

LTA said motorists can refer to its social media platforms and OneMotoring website for updates on the road closure.

It also reminded drivers of over-height vehicles to ensure their cranes are adequately stowed before driving off, and to always look out for overhead road structures. 

Those found guilty of damaging road structures or buildings can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed up to two years. Repeat offenders face a maximum fine of $10,000 and/or a jail term of up to five years. 

Police investigations are ongoing.