Long-delayed Changi viaduct to open on Feb 19

The viaduct in Changi near Upper Changi Road North. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
The 1.8km-long, one-way viaduct will have a new exit (2A) from the Tampines Expressway (towards the Pan-Island Expressway) after the existing Exit 2. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE – A viaduct in Changi that was initially delayed by a fatal and costly construction accident will finally open on Feb 19.

In its latest update on Friday morning, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that with the opening of the viaduct – now officially named Tampines Viaduct – motorists will have an additional and direct route when travelling from Tampines Expressway (TPE) to the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and Upper Changi Road East.

They will be able to 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.

The 1.8km-long, one-way viaduct will have a new exit (2A) from the TPE (towards PIE) after the existing Exit 2 that will help to redistribute the traffic heading to the PIE (towards Tuas) and Upper Changi Road East, the LTA added.

Construction of the viaduct – originally called TPE/PIE/Changi viaduct or Changi 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 of the viaduct 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 – including realigning part of the TPE and PIE – resumed in 2019, and the viaduct was scheduled to open in the first half of 2022.

But the Covid-19 pandemic caused another delay. Among other things, the pandemic crimped worker supply because of stricter border movements and quarantine requirements. Curtailed freight movements also caused a shortage of materials, according to industry players.

In an update in September 2021, the LTA said the viaduct would open in the second half of 2022. After three missed deadlines, the project is now close to completion and will open on Feb 19.

A section of the viaduct adjacent to a slip road from Upper Changi Road East to the Pan-Island Expressway collapsed on July 14, 2017. ST FILE PHOTO

Mr Raymond Ang is among motorists in the area who have been looking forward to using the new viaduct. The 63-year-old businessman and Changi resident said: “The long awaited opening of the viaduct is great news for many residents in its vicinity like me.

“For a very long time, motorists have had to criss-cross the merging lanes to either get to the lane leading to PIE towards Changi Airport or East Coast Parkway, or the lane leading to PIE towards Tuas.

“We can finally put an end to this nightmarish manoeuvring. This viaduct will ease a lot of tension and stress for many of us who commute to the city regularly.”

Another Changi resident, Mr Sarjeet Singh, felt the same way. The 56-year-old lawyer said: “After the last announcement by the LTA that the project was expected to be completed in the second half of 2022, I said I would not hold my breath; but better late than never.”

Motorists and residents who have had to live through the protracted construction will have to bear with more of the same in the vicinity.

The LTA reminded the public on Friday that major ongoing infrastructure works to support plans to develop the Changi region will involve the closure of Loyang Avenue (between Pasir Ris Drive 3 and Loyang Way) from Feb 26, as well as the closure of Pasir Ris Drive 1 (between Pasir Ris Drive 8 and Pasir Ris Central) from the third quarter of the year.

“Motorists are advised to plan their routes in advance and to expect delays,” the LTA said.

“They can stay updated on the route changes through OneMotoring and LTA’s social media channels.”

Several other land transport projects have also been delayed. These include the final stages of the Thomson-East Coast MRT line; the sixth stage of the Circle MRT line; the Jurong Region Line, a medium-load rail line that was mooted in 2001; the Cross Island MRT line; the North-South Corridor; and an expressway with bus and cycling lanes.

After a long trial, OKP Contractors was fined $1 million in May 2021 for failing to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its workers. Project director Yee Chee Keong was sentenced to 13 months in jail, and project engineer Wong Kiew Hai was sentenced to 11 months in jail.

The company and the two employees were found guilty in January 2021 after a 60-day trial that revealed, among other things, concealment of early signs of cracks in the structure.

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