Covid-19 delays work to rebuild collapsed viaduct in Changi

A section of the Changi viaduct, where the collapse took place, as seen on Sept 14, 2021.
A section of the Changi viaduct, where the collapse took place, as seen on Sept 14, 2021.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A long-delayed road project in Changi will be further delayed, another in a list of infrastructural projects derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Land Transport Authority said the Tampines Expressway-Pan Island Expressway Changi viaduct project has been affected by manpower and supply disruption due to Covid-19.

"The project is now expected to be completed in the second half of next year, from first half of 2022," a spokesman added. "We are monitoring the progress of the project closely."

Construction of the viaduct was initially undertaken by local builder OKP Holdings for $94.6 million in 2015. It was to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

But a collapse of a section in July 2017 - caused by a series of erroneous designs, poor oversight and cover-ups - delayed works. The collapse killed one worker and injured 10 others.

Hwa Seng Builder eventually took over the project for $95.6 million. Work resumed in 2019, and the viaduct was scheduled to open in the first half of 2022.

But the pandemic threw a spanner in the works.

Among other things, it crimped worker supply because of stricter border movements and quarantine requirements. Curtailed freight movements have also caused a shortage of materials, according to industry players.

When completed, the viaduct is expected to ease congestion by letting motorists travelling from the Tampines Expressway (TPE) to the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) and Upper Changi Road East bypass a stretch of the TPE between the Loyang and Upper Changi flyovers, as well as existing signalised junctions with Loyang Avenue and Upper Changi Road North.

Motorists using that stretch of road have been waiting to use the viaduct for a number of years now.

Changi resident Sarjeet Singh said: "I was looking forward to the opening as I have been seeing the progress."

The 55-year-old lawyer added: "I guess I won't hold my breath any more in case I get disappointed again."

Another Changi resident, 62-year-old businessman Raymond Ang, said: "I can't fault the authorities on this. It was no fault of theirs."

Still, Mr Ang said the construction has caused great inconvenience to residents in the vicinity. "Traffic will always be slowing down over that stretch," he said. "It's a huge bugbear. It's frustrating, but what can we do about it?"

Several other land transport projects are also delayed. The Thomson-East Coast MRT line was originally due to fully open in 2024, but it will now be completed in 2025.

The sixth stage of the Circle MRT line, which joins HarbourFront and Marina Bay to make a complete circle, was initially due to open in 2025. It will now be completed in 2026.

The Jurong Region Line, a medium-load rail line which was first mooted in 2001 and given the go-ahead in 2013, was originally scheduled for completion in 2025. It will now fully open in 2029.

The Cross Island MRT line, which spans Changi to Jurong and cuts through a nature reserve, was to be completed in 2030. It is now set to be up by the 2030s.

Elsewhere, construction of the North-South Corridor, an expressway with bus and cycling lanes, was to have started in 2015 and be done by around 2020.

The start date was postponed because of a redesign to accommodate buses and bicycles, with completion eventually targeted for 2026. This has been delayed to 2027 due to Covid-19.