Right-turn exit on PIE to be replaced with new left exit on May 28

The 90m-long underpass will connect back to the existing slip road on the other side of the expressway leading to Jalan Anak Bukit. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - From 5am on May 28, Singapore’s only right-turn expressway exit, located on the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), will be replaced by a new left exit.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) gave the date of PIE Exit 26A’s relocation in a statement on Sunday after the move was twice delayed. Construction on the $32.7 million project began in February 2018.

With the new exit, motorists on the westbound PIE turning off towards Dunearn Road, Clementi Road and Upper Bukit Timah Road will be led to a downward ramp on the left, which links to the new Rifle Range underpass running underneath the expressway.

The 90m-long underpass will connect back to the existing slip road on the other side of the expressway leading to Jalan Anak Bukit.

LTA told The Straits Times that the move will help to improve traffic flow and safety on the PIE.

“We do not expect significant changes in commuting time,” said its spokesman.

Signs will be put up two weeks before the opening of the new exit to inform motorists of the upcoming change. Traffic marshals will also be deployed during peak hours on the first few days after opening.

In addition, LTA said it will engage residents in the area and publicise the relocation of the PIE exit on its website and social media channels.

After the opening of the new exit, the old Exit 26A will be removed. LTA will also realign the nearby Hua Guan Avenue, which was temporarily diverted to make room for construction, and progressively reinstate it to a two-way road with one lane in each direction. These works are expected to take another four to six months to finish.

The authorities previously said that the removal of the right-turn PIE exit was prompted by a regular review of the road network here, as well as feedback from road users.

Currently, when motorists want to turn off the PIE at Exit 26A, they have to keep to the right, which means goods vehicles that are supposed to stay on the left lane have to filter across several lanes.

Over time, heavier traffic on the PIE and more heavy vehicles plying the route have led to more vehicles weaving through traffic to make the right-turn exit, LTA noted. This has caused traffic slowdowns on the westbound PIE, it said. Moving Exit 26A to the left will alleviate this.

After the opening of the new exit, the old Exit 26A will be removed. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

Initially slated to be completed in 2021, the PIE exit relocation project – undertaken by Megastone Holdings – was pushed back to the second half of 2022, and again to May 28, 2023.

LTA cited engineering challenges and a manpower crunch brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as reasons for the delays.

LTA said the contractor had to contend with a narrow working corridor beside an active expressway and unique terrain at the worksite.

While advanced engineering and site studies had indicated the presence of hard Bukit Timah granite, it was only after construction started that the rock layer was found to be significantly shallower where the new underpass was being built, LTA said in response to queries.

About 1,000 cubic metres of hard rock had to be removed, hence the works were extended by a few months, LTA added. Controlled rock blasting, which involved drilling holes into the rock before using explosives to fracture it, was carried out in stages to remove the granite.

LTA said this method produces less noise and dust, and it was assessed to be safer and more effective.

As the blasting had to be done in a safe and controlled manner to minimise shock to the terrain, bored piling and excavation works were pushed back, it added.

Asked if this had any impact on the cost of the project, LTA said the cost remains at about $33 million.

Road experts that ST previously interviewed welcomed the removal of the right-turn exit, noting that it was unorthodox.

“By removing the exit, we will avoid situations where fast-moving vehicles have to slow down to give way to vehicles intending to make a right-turn exit,” Mr Bernard Tay, chairman of the Singapore Road Safety Council, said in 2022.

Ms Nicole Mak, 45, who lives in the Toh Tuck area, said she uses the right-turn exit about twice a week and has not encountered any issues.

But the legal counsel said she understands that the new left exit and underpass are meant to improve safety. “I’ll have to reorientate myself and remember to keep to my left instead of the right,” she said.

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