- POSTED: 30 Dec 2013 10:39
- UPDATED: 30 Dec 2013 23:39
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Despite signs being put up and traffic wardens hitting the road to give directions, the changes to roads leading to the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) still befuddled some motorists, causing brief bottlenecks on Sunday.
SINGAPORE: Despite signs being put up and traffic wardens hitting the road to give directions, the changes to roads leading to the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) still befuddled some motorists, causing brief bottlenecks on Sunday.
MCE, Singapore’s newest highway, opened to traffic on Sunday.
TODAY observed that motorists seemed to be confused by road work to downgrade a section of the East Coast Parkway (ECP) at the end of the Ayer-Rajah Expressway (AYE). Others appeared unsure about when to keep left to access each of the exits in the underground MCE.
Some motorists said they were caught in the jam for more than an hour, while others were late for work and had to pay extra costs for their taxi fare.
The 5km, S$4.3 billion MCE joins the ECP, Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and AYE.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) acknowledged that traffic was slow along Central Boulevard and Marina Boulevard “as some motorists may not be entirely familiar with how to enter the MCE”, but it said there was “smooth-flowing traffic within the MCE tunnel” otherwise.
“As with all changes to the road network, motorists may take some time to be familiar with the changes,” said a spokesperson.
However, analysts say the problem could be due to the road design itself.
"At the exit of ECP and KPE, more lanes have been allocated to ECP, but we can expect more demand from the AYE followed by MCE, continuing on the ECP," said Associate Professor Lee Der Horng of the department of civil and environmental Engineering at National University of Singapore.
"If this is the case of higher demand but smaller or lower capacity has been allocated to this direction of traffic, then we can expect some spill back of the traffic jam."
As an interim measure, the LTA will be widening parts of Central Boulevard. It will also be putting up more temporary signs at key approaches to alert motorists of road network changes.
Some taxi drivers said they chose to take alternative roads rather than the MCE on Sunday, after hearing reports on the radio about traffic jams.
Taxi driver Chin C K, 70, who drove a passenger through Chinatown to get to Resorts World Sentosa, instead of taking the highway, said: “I’m not familiar with the MCE yet.”
Another cabby, Robert Png, 53, said he took a few wrong turns when he was driving a tourist to the Gardens by the Bay via the highway.
“I expect motorists, even us cabbies, will take some time to get used to the MCE and the new routes, especially since a part of the ECP will be gone,” he said.
“The Marina area is still developing, with many new, similar-sounding road names like Central Boulevard, Marina Boulevard and Marina Coastal Drive — it’s difficult to remember all at one go.”
Another motorist, Ms Selina, 46, was not aware of the opening of the MCE and took the route by accident to Kallang area.
“Although the signage was clear, it was obvious that other drivers were unsure of where they had to go exactly, especially at the exit towards Fort Road — there were quite a few cars weaving in and out of traffic,” she said.
Some motorists expressed concern that the traffic situation will be worse next week when the holiday season ends and more people get back to work. Some are even saying that they plan to avoid the MCE altogether and use alternative routes."
Motorist Marc Ha said: "Today we saw the huge mess that was created and we know a lot of people are on holiday, I hope they are catering for the peak.
“So I'm definitely going to take an alternative route to and from work. I'm definitely going to stay away very very clear away from the MCE until it fixes itself, I will be taking Prince Edward road. I will be taking the Nicoll highway but nowhere near MCE."
Despite the opening-day hiccups, some motorists said such teething problems were understandable for a new expressway. They also pointed out that the MCE shaves travelling time off some routes.
For example, Mr Chin said the MCE made for a smoother drive as compared to the now-closed stretch of the ECP, which he felt had heavier traffic and more bends. Residents in Sengkang or Hougang will also be able to reach the city more quickly travelling by the KPE, then the MCE. “It’s a more direct way for them,” he said.
A taxi driver who took a passenger from Toa Payoh to Resorts World Sentosa via the MCE said the journey was shorter by about 10 minutes.
Some motorists, however, are already missing the closed stretch of the ECP — because of the view of the city skyline.
Said Ms Roslynda, 40: “It’s a very scenic drive, during which you can see the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands, but now, all we’ll see is a tunnel. I’ll miss that view.”