SINGAPORE - A slip road leading from Holland Road and Commonwealth Road into Farrer Road as well as an adjoining road have been closed to traffic since Tuesday as workers repair a cave-in caused by tunnelling works.
National water agency PUB said late on Wednesday night that “a sinkhole and some cracks were observed on the slip road”, where tunnelling work for a section of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) Phase 2 is ongoing.
The agency said the damage was detected on Tuesday. It has stopped tunnelling work as a precaution while investigations are ongoing, and closed the slip road into Farrer Road as well as two lanes along a section of the Farrer Underpass for safety.
One lane along the underpass was reopened on Wednesday evening, and PUB said it hopes to reopen the slip road “in the next few days”.
“We apologise for the inconveniences caused,” said PUB, without elaborating on how exactly the tunnelling works caused the cave-in.
When The Straits Times went on-site on Wednesday afternoon, an entire stretch outside the Leedon Green condominium project was cordoned off with a canvas screen, and workers from Japanese construction giant Nishimatsu – a PUB contractor for the DTSS Phase 2 project – were present. ST has contacted the company for comments.
This is not the first time tunnelling works had caused such an incident in the area. In 2008, tunnelling for the MRT Circle Line caused a cave-in in the same vicinity. An 8m by 7m stretch of Cornwall Gardens in Holland Village – barely 200m from the damaged Farrer Road – had sunk into a 3m-deep crater.
In 2004, a section of Nicoll Highway collapsed because of a Circle Line tunnelling accident in which Nishimatsu was implicated.
The Farrer Road closure caused long tailbacks during the evening traffic peak on Tuesday, and again on Wednesday evening. In fact, all roads in the surrounding area – going as far off as Commonwealth – were congested with vehicles crawling along at 7pm.
Public bus services are also affected by the closure. Operator Tower Transit said its service 855 will be skipping bus stops at Viz Holland and Leedon Green. Pedestrian traffic is also affected, with signs at the junction showing alternative walking paths in the area.
The section of road leads to Lornie Highway, a major link in Singapore’s ring road network. It is usually heavily used during the morning and evening traffic peaks.
Motorists heading from Holland and Commonwealth can avoid the stretch by using Napier Road towards Cluny Road to bypass the blockade and get back onto Lornie Highway.
Alternatively, they can head towards Orchard Road and use Stevens Road or Newton Road to avoid Lornie Highway altogether.
Either way, they should avoid the surface roads leading to Farrer Road. Instead, they should stay on the right and take the viaduct to bypass the Farrer-Holland-Queensway junction.
Those heading from Orchard towards Farrer should turn off at Cluny or earlier.
Motorist Amrit Changaroth was one of many affected by the rare road closure. The 31-year-old mechanical engineer was heading from Holland Village to Sin Ming estate when he noticed an “unusually long line” leading towards Farrer Road at around 5.15pm on Tuesday.
After moving at a crawl for several minutes, he decided to take the viaduct towards Dempsey, to make a U-turn and head back towards the Farrer junction. But that route was also blocked. So he had no choice but to head back towards Holland Village, find a way onto the Ayer Rajah Expressway, and then use the Central Expressway to get to where he was going.
“At the time I was there, I could see seven or eight public buses lined up along the road. They were stuck,” Mr Changaroth said.