Underpass to Bukit Panjang MRT delayed

LTA cites 'difficult ground conditions'; third entrance will be completed only by year end

A new underpass that will give residents in surrounding HDB blocks fully sheltered access to Bukit Panjang MRT station will be delayed, owing to "difficult ground conditions".

Originally slated to open in December 2016, after the Downtown Line 2 is opened, the third entrance to the station will now be completed only by the end of the year.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Land Transport Authority spokesman said construction took longer than planned "due to extensive underground utilities and difficult ground conditions, such as the presence of high rock levels".

The 100m-long linkway when open will give commuters all- weather access to and from the station. Currently, they have to use a signallised crossing at the junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Woodlands Road or an overhead pedestrian bridge nearby.

The underpass links a cluster of blocks of flats in Senja Road to the Bukit Panjang MRT station, which is also connected to the Hillion shopping mall. Student Huzaifah Nordin, 21, was surprised to hear of the delay. "I didn't know about it," the Senja Road resident said. "No one told us."

Being an add-on project... the construction is more challenging than if it had been built along with the station.

He said the construction has been "troublesome" for residents and there is a lot of noise and dust. "The delay should have been avoided," he added.

The new underpass was not planned together with the Downtown Line project, and work on it was started in 2014 by Swiss-German civil engineering group Ed Zublin.

On average, an MRT station in Singapore has fewer than half the number of entrances that an MTR station in Hong Kong has.

The construction of the underpass came after about two years of lobbying by residents through Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MPs Liang Eng Hwa and Vivian Balakrishnan.

Said Mr Liang: "We certainly hope it will be completed soon, but we also want it to be done well and done safely."

The third entrance (bottom of picture) of Bukit Panjang MRT station, in front of Block 605, Senja Road, under construction yesterday.
The third entrance (bottom of picture) of Bukit Panjang MRT station, in front of Block 605, Senja Road, under construction yesterday. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Being an add-on project, Mr Liang said the construction is more challenging than if it had been built along with the station.

He noted that the project is causing traffic congestion, especially during peak hours.

Because of the construction, "it's not a straight road, and that does slow down traffic".

"We get quite a lot of feedback from residents on that," he added.

Polytechnic lecturer Sim Tze Jan, 38, said he had been looking forward to using the underpass.

"I've since moved out," he said. "If it had been finished on time, it would have benefited me. I still go back to the area because my parents live there. I'm surprised to see the construction."

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2017, with the headline 'Underpass to Bukit Panjang MRT delayed'. Print Edition | Subscribe