SINGAPORE - Hikers can now access the Rail Corridor from another location with the opening of a new footbridge near the Kranji Expressway (KJE) on Saturday (April 17).
The bridge is next to the Villa Verde estate in Yew Tee and straddles both sides of the Pang Sua Canal, of which a part of the Rail Corridor runs alongside.
The National Parks Board (NParks) said this will enhance accessibility for residents in the area.
Users of the Pang Sua Park Connector along the canal will also be able to use a new underpass at Stagmont Ring, off Woodlands Road, set to open in June.
Mr Tay Boon Sin, NParks' director of parks, said: "This will allow a seamless connection for park users (and) joggers who do not need to cross the... road at the traffic junction."
Those visiting Villa Verde Park, which is beside the canal, can also access nearby Limbang and Choa Chu Kang parks via upcoming park connectors.
An extension of Villa Verde Park, which will increase its area from 0.9ha to 2ha, is being planned.
Expected to open next year, it will be located under the KJE and will include a dog run, an allotment garden and a community space for group activities.
Visitors to the extension will also find a sheltered space with seats.
The new area will have a pit stop for Rail Corridor visitors and park connector users, with drinking fountains and educational signboards about the area's heritage.
NParks said it incorporated feedback and suggestions from Villa Verde residents and members of the Friends of Rail Corridor community group when designing the park extension.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong graced the opening of the bridge on Saturday, which ended with them planting a tree to commemorate the occasion.
Mr Wong, who is adviser to the Marsiling-Yew Tee Grassroots Organisations (GROs), said the new bridge will enable residents to conveniently use the bus stops in Woodlands Road, on the other side of the canal.
He told residents: "I am glad this is completed, and hopefully it will add to your convenience."
Mr Gan, who is adviser to the Choa Chu Kang GROs, said he was happy to see the park extension plans come to fruition.
Residents The Straits Times spoke to welcomed the upcoming enhancements to the area and the park extension.
A resident, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Chin, 42, said in Mandarin: "(I am) looking forward to seeing the types of plants (in the new extension)."
The supply chain manager, who was present at the bridge's opening, said it was her first time being on the other side of the canal.
The opening of a new access point to the Rail Corridor comes after a 4km stretch of the nature trail reopened last month with new features and restored rail infrastructure.
Separately, in a radio interview with Money FM on Saturday, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the Rail Corridor is a microcosm of the broader challenges Singapore faces in incorporating and conserving green spaces in a dense city environment.
Mr Lee said a three-way balance had to be struck in using the entire 24km stretch of land.
Apart from retaining the space for nature and recreation, and conserving its historical infrastructure, parcels of land adjacent to the Rail Corridor will be used for various developments to meet needs for homes, jobs and amenities.
Said Mr Lee: "Singaporeans are now recognising that we have some very green spaces and biodiversity on a scale that most people would not associate with an urban setting.
"In a way, the Covid-19 pandemic, as harsh as it is, was a silver lining in how it accelerated public awareness of the environment into the mainstream."
Additional reporting by Michelle Ng
• For more stories on exploring Singapore, go to str.sg/sg-go-where.