SINGAPORE - To make pedestrian overhead bridges more accessible for the elderly and disabled, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will equip another 27 of them with lifts in the next three years.
The authority awarded two contracts last December for the project. For a start, it has identified three bridges near healthcare facilities to be upgraded with lift shafts.
These are at the Ayer Rajah Expressway near National University Hospital, Alexandra Road near Alexandra Hospital, and Pan Island Expressway near Geylang Polyclinic, the LTA told The Straits Times.
"In this contract phase, we have prioritised pedestrian overhead bridges located near health institutes with high footfall as these will benefit a larger proportion of seniors and less mobile patients," said an LTA spokesman.
Installing lifts at existing overhead bridges are "part of efforts to create a more inclusive land transport system and improve connectivity", the spokesman added.
Works to install lifts at the 27 bridges will start in the fourth quarter of this year, and are targeted to be completed by 2021.
So far, 26 pedestrian overhead bridges near public transport nodes, healthcare institutions, homes for the aged, and schools for special-needs children have been installed with lifts. Another 21 will be retrofitted by the end of this year.
When the additional batch of 27 overhead bridges are retrofitted by 2021, there will be a total of 74 bridges fitted with lifts.
Madam Christine Kwai, 68, who goes to Alexandra Hospital regularly, said that lifts will be a welcome addition. "For old folks like us, climbing up the stairs is not easy, and our legs get sore," said the cleaner in Mandarin.
In a written Parliamentary reply to MP Darryl David in February, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that a pair of lifts at an overhead bridge can cost up to $4 million to install and about $40,000 a year to maintain.
Mr Khaw said that bridges are selected for retrofitting based on factors such as their proximity to major transport nodes, the level of pedestrian demand, and the availability of existing barrier-free alternatives nearby.
Ms Ng P., 52, a freelance editor, said lifts at overhead bridges will benefit her 88-year-old mother. "But I'm also afraid that the youth will rush with the elderly folk to use the lifts," she said.