Novena underpasses to be demolished

One of the underpasses to be demolished (left) links Novena MRT station to Goldhill Centre. The other links Novena Square to Revenue House. Construction of the North-South Corridor is expected to begin next year.
One of the underpasses to be demolished (left) links Novena MRT station to Goldhill Centre. The other links Novena Square to Revenue House. Construction of the North-South Corridor is expected to begin next year.PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Two linkways to make way for work on North-South Corridor next year

Two underpasses in the Novena area will be demolished to make way for construction work on the upcoming North-South Corridor, which is expected to begin next year.

One of the linkways connects the Velocity@Novena Square shopping mall and Revenue House, which houses government agencies such as the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Land Authority, while the other links Novena MRT station to Goldhill Centre in Thomson Road.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao reported yesterday that the two underpasses would be demolished.

A spokesman for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) confirmed that the underpasses would be temporarily affected by construction work.

"LTA is studying various options to reconstruct the underpasses as part of the upcoming project," he said, adding that LTA was still in the "preliminary stage" of the study and would provide more details when available.

Underpasses 'can be rebuilt to be better' 

Nanyang Technological University transport consultant Gopinath Menon said he did not believe the demolition of the two linkways would badly affect pedestrians.

"They still have the option of above-ground pedestrian crossings," he said.

Mr Gopinath added that the future linkways could connect all the buildings in the area, similar to how City Hall MRT station is linked to the Esplanade and Suntec City by a series of underground retail spaces.

Experts agreed the reconstruction of the underpasses would provide an opportunity to improve them.

Mr Chong Kee Sen, former president of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore, said the underpass leading to Revenue House, currently accessible only by a staircase on the Novena Square side, was not very friendly to the elderly or the disabled.

"We can take advantage of the situation to make the underpasses more user-friendly," said Mr Chong.

Mr Lim Peng Hong, former president of the Association of Consulting Engineers Singapore, said the cut-and-cover method used to build underground expressways here made the demolition of the underpasses inevitable.

He also said features such as ramps could make the future underpass more accessible to bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs.

"There's no reason to rebuild the underpasses exactly the same," said Mr Lim.

WORRIED FOR BUSINESS

Taking this route is a habit for some and is how we get our customers.

MR MICHAEL BOH, who works in an electronics store in the basement of Square 2.

TEMPORARY INCONVENIENCE

I would be less inclined to visit the area because it would definitely be more inconvenient.

MS REBECCA LIM, who shops at United Square and uses the underpass from the MRT to get there via Goldhill Plaza.

Businesses in the area, however, worry that the demolition of the underpasses would mean less human traffic in the interim.

"Taking this route is a habit for some and is how we get our customers," said 27-year-old Michael Boh, who works in an electronics store in the basement of Square 2 mall.

Patrons of the shopping malls said the closure of the linkways would inconvenience them.

"I would be less inclined to visit the area because it would definitely be more inconvenient," said 20-year-old student Rebecca Lim, who shops at United Square and uses the underpass from the MRT to get there via Goldhill Plaza.

It was announced in January that the 21.5km-long North-South Corridor, originally slated as a vehicular expressway, would be Singapore's first integrated transport corridor, featuring dedicated bus lanes as well as cycling and pedestrian paths.

Connecting towns in the north such as Woodlands and Sembawang to the city, the North-South Corridor is expected to be completed in 2026.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline 'Novena underpasses to be demolished'. Print Edition | Subscribe