The planned North-South Expressway - a 21.5km partly-underground road linking Woodlands to the city - will have one of its three lanes in each direction reserved for buses, making it the first highway in Singapore to be built this way.
A cycling path and a wide pedestrian walkway will also be built along the entire route of the expressway, which will pass through towns such as Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced this through an addendum to the President's address yesterday. In a blog following his announcement, Mr Khaw said: "Our founding PM Mr Lee Kuan Yew had thought in great detail about what would make Singapore a pleasant, beautiful city to live in.
"In 1975, he said in a speech, 'Pavements must be designed to allow trees to grow, providing shade to pedestrians, and to cut down noon-day sunshine on roads. Pavements of granolithic slabs and concrete stifle trees. They must be forbidden by law. Some must be unceremoniously broken up.'
"Can we build on Mr Lee's legacy of a clean and green city and his people-centric vision to transform Singapore into a city that prides itself on public transport, walking and cycling, instead of driving?"
Mr Khaw said that part of Bencoolen Street will incorporate cycling and walking paths when Downtown Line 3 is completed. Two out of the road's four lanes will be used for this. This cycling path will connect to Bukit Timah in the north and the city in the south.
Meanwhile, the reconfigured North-South Expressway will now be known as the North-South Corridor. Originally slated for completion by 2020, it is now likely to take at least one year more.
The Land Transport Authority said it is working on the revised plans. "The final design and project timeline will be released at a later date," it added.
But a spokesman said the North-South Corridor's bus lane will not be the same as the current lanes marked in yellow or red. He said it will be a "dedicated lane".
Research associate Hawyee Auyong at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy described the plan as "quite progressive".
"It's fantastic that they're trying out these new ideas," he said. "But they will have to think through it carefully."
For instance, he said the exits and entrances of the expressway will now have to be designed with the right-of-way of buses. Otherwise, there will be bottlenecks, he noted.
Cycling advocate Han Jok Kwang said the plan is "ambitious".
"It's obvious we are starting to realise the merits of going in this direction," he said. "It will go towards making our city more liveable."
Asked if there would be enough people using the cycling path, Mr Han said: "I think so. The distance is quite meaningful. An average cyclist will be able to do the whole 21km within an hour." He said the next step would be to encourage workplaces to provide adequate shower and bike-parking facilities.
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