A major section of a road near the Orchard Road shopping belt reopened at 4.55pm yesterday after a 13-hour closure, following an oil spill.
All five lanes on Paterson Road heading towards River Valley, between Orchard Road and Orchard Boulevard, were closed, causing a massive tailback on roads feeding into the area.
Congestion built up even on the Central Expressway and Pan-Island Expressway as motorists tried to find alternative routes. The police were alerted to the oil spill, which stretched across all five lanes, at 1.30am.
The spill next to the popular Ion Orchard shopping mall was believed to have been caused by a truck, and the driver is assisting in police investigations.
From 3.48am, the stretch of road was closed as a safety precaution, while Singapore Civil Defence Force emergency services worked to wash off the oil. Officers from a pair of fire engines spent two hours hosing off most of the oil using water jets and biosolvents. At about 5am, the National Environment Agency took over. Its crew used sawdust to sweep away the oily residue over four hours, but the road was still deemed too oily and unsafe.
The Straits Times understands that after all clean-up efforts were exhausted, the Land Transport Authority decided that the road needed to be resurfaced.
At 10am, 20 workers on heavy machines stripped the surface off the oily stretch of road before systematically resurfacing it lane by lane. Forensic investigators were seen taking samples of the road surface for analysis.
At about noon, the northbound side of Paterson Road was converted into a two-way road to allow traffic from Scotts Road to continue to Paterson Hill. This relieved the congestion somewhat but was not enough to appease many who were caught in the snarl.
Volunteer guide Shia Ai Lee was on a bus to the Peranakan Museum and caught in the jam along Scotts Road. "Traffic was a nightmare. Scotts Road was just chock-a-block," said the 61-year-old.
Additional reporting by Adrian Lim