Budget debate: Part of Eng Hoon Street in Tiong Bahru to be closed to traffic in trial

A 60m stretch of Eng Hoon Street will be closed to vehicular traffic from the end of this month as part of a pedestrian-friendly trial. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - A road intersection near Tiong Bahru Market will be made more pedestrian-friendly in a six-month trial that will involve closing off a 60m stretch of Eng Hoon Street to vehicular traffic from the end of this month.

Roadside parking spaces in Seng Poh Road and Lim Liak Street will also be converted into wider footpaths and community spaces, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said on Wednesday (March 9).

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is also looking to reshape Singapore's streetscape by creating more transit priority corridors (TPCs), which are roads that incorporate bus-only lanes, wider pavements and cycling paths.

Bencoolen Street is one example of this, as is the upcoming North-South Corridor, and the aim is to add another 60km of such corridors by 2030, Dr Khor said during the debate on her ministry's budget in Parliament.

"This may not sound like a lot but each TPC will become the key thoroughfare for the neighbourhood," she added.

Construction on one of them - a 2km-long TPC in Sin Ming Avenue - will start in the second half of this year.

This corridor will be fully completed only in 2029 as it will be built in two phases to minimise disamenities and avoid abortive work, said an LTA spokesman.

Meanwhile, TPCs in new growth areas such as Tengah, Bayshore, Jurong Lake District, Woodlands North Coast and Punggol North will be built in tandem with future developments, the spokesman added.

Robinson Road, which connects Raffles Place and Tanjong Pagar, may also be turned into a TPC, possibly from 2024 onwards.

These projects are the latest in an ongoing effort by the authorities to repurpose road lanes to improve public transport access, and make walking and cycling here safer and more pleasant, as Singapore goes car-lite.

Another area that has been identified is Tanjong Pagar, Dr Khor said, and LTA will lead an inter-agency workgroup to study how to improve walking and cycling there.

Last March, Dr Khor said about 60 sites where roads could be converted into footpaths, cycling paths or bus lanes have been identified.

In December last year, 13 roadside parking spaces in front of a row of shophouses in Havelock Road were permanently converted into an extended footpath after a trial.

That same month, Connaught Drive, Fullerton Road and Anderson Bridge were fully closed to vehicular traffic to make it easier to walk in the Civic District.

Meanwhile, a 200m stretch of Woodlands Ring Road will also be permanently converted into a path for pedestrians and cyclists by the third quarter of this year.

The pedestrian-friendly trial at Eng Hoon Street will last for six months. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

Like these other projects, the trial in Tiong Bahru came after consultations with local businesses and grassroots leaders, who were supportive of it, LTA said.

Eateries around the pedestrianised section of Eng Hoon Street include Prive, Thai restaurant Little Elephant and Tiong Bahru Bakery. Temporary kerbs and planter boxes will be used to close off the 60m stretch during the trial.

An existing taxi stand in Seng Poh Road will be moved to Lim Liak Street to facilitate the footpath widening works.

An artist's impression of the taxi stand in Lim Liak Street. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

Surveys will be conducted to collect more feedback from the community, and the changes will be made permanent only if there is support.

This is the approach the LTA has taken with previous pedestrianisation projects and will be the modus operandi going forward, Dr Khor said.

Said the LTA spokesman: "When the future Havelock MRT station on Thomson-East Coast Line opens (later this year), the Tiong Bahru area can expect to attract even more visitors. The creation of wider walking spaces will help improve safety for residents and visitors, especially seniors and children."

On the active mobility front, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said on Wednesday that a trial will be conducted to provide dedicated cycling space in West Camp Road in Seletar on Sunday mornings.

This comes after a new rule kicked in this year, limiting cycling groups on roads to five riders in a single file, or 10 if cycling two abreast.

“We heard the desire of cyclists to cycle in larger groups,” said Mr Baey, adding that more details on the trial will be shared at a later date.

In addition, the Government is accelerating its plans to expand the cycling path network to 1,300km by 2030. It is also adding 3,000 more bicycle parking lots at MRT stations by 2025, which will take the total number of parking lots at transport nodes here to 30,000.

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