New expressway sparks big land acquisition

The government has announced the full alignment for the 21.5-kilometre-long North-South Expressway (NSE), with the southern segment unveiled on Tuesday.

The final 5.6-kilometre stretch of the expressway will be an underground tunnel beginning from Toa Payoh Rise and ending at East Coast Parkway.

It will pass along Thomson Road, Bukit Timah Road and Ophir Road before leading to the East Coast Parkway Expressway.

In January, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) had announced the alignment for the northern segment between Admiralty Road West and Toa Payoh Rise.

When ready by 2020, NSE, which is Singapore’s 11th expressway, is expected to cut travel time for motorists by up to 30 per cent.

For example, a journey between Yishun and the city currently takes about 30 to 35 minutes.

With the NSE, the same journey can be completed between 20 and 30 minutes.

LTA chief executive Chew Hock Yong said: “We were looking for the southern segment to link up in a nice way to the ECP so it has to take a certain alignment that comes round that way into city.

“The city is very built-up so the southern segment is all underground, and as much as possible, we follow the alignment of existing rounds, so as to minimise the acquisition of private properties and we use state land to build the expressway.”

But several properties will have to make way for the southern segment.

Two full lots and 21 partials lots will be acquired.

They include four HDB blocks of flats at Rochor Centre which has been around since 1977.

This will be the largest acquisition of HDB flats to date.

Mr Chew said: “We studied the alignment, and in the city it gets very crowded and at that area, there are MRT lines that are running there.

“There’s the Bugis MRT station and there’s the Downtown Line station being constructed, there is a canal running along Rochor Canal and for engineering reasons, the road has to be of a certain level of straightness… because the cars would have to travel at a certain speed.

“So taking all that into account, that was the alignment that we have to settle on and unfortunately it will affect the blocks that are there.”

Residents of 567 flats at Rochor Centre will be offered relocation benefits similar to those offered under the Selective En Bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS).

Eighty-three per cent of the flats acquired are three-room units.

HDB will build about 810 units of new flats at Kallang as replacement housing for the residents affected.

Located next to Kallang River, residents will also be well-served by a good transportation network, with the Kallang MRT station being a five-minute walk.

Some 187 rental shops and eating houses at Rochor Centre will also be affected.

They will be given a 10 per cent preferential discount off the monthly rental rates when they successfully tender for other HDB rental commercial properties, or when they take over other HDB rental commercial properties through assignment.

Nanyang Pho Leng Association, located at Keng Lee Road and which has been in operation since 1970, will have to make way for the NSE.

The Nanyang Pho Leng Building is home to a Teochew clan association, which has more than 1,000 members.

LTA said the association will be given assistance in their purchase of and relocation to a replacement property.

Land acquisition notices have been handed out since 12pm Tuesday and the Singapore Land Authority has gazetted the lands affected by the acquisition.

Some state properties will also be making way for the NSE.

They include Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home and Victoria Street Wholesale Centre.

They will be able to complete their current tenancy or licence when the NSE works starts.

The lease for Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home has been extended till September 2013.

Advance works for the NSE will start progressively from 2013, and major construction works will start in 2015.

The construction of the NSE will benefit residents living in the north and north-eastern sectors of Singapore as it caters to the expected growth in traffic demand generated by new developments there.

It will connect towns along the north-south corridor — Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa-Payoh — to the city centre.

Running parallel to the Central Expressway, NSE will help to alleviate the traffic load on the heavily-utilised expressway, as well as the major arterial roads nearby such as Thomson Road and Marymount Road.

The NSE is expected to cost the government some S$7 billion to S$8 billion.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Nov 2011

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