SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has started speaking to people likely to be affected by the construction of the proposed route for the Cross Island Line, it said. The upcoming MRT line is set to run from Jurong, past Clementi, before ending in Changi.
Said the deputy chief executive of infrastructure and development at LTA, Chua Chong Kheng: "The Government has not yet made the decision on which option to pursue. If the direct alignment is chosen, construction of the MRT tunnel will be via underground tunnelling methods, and will be done from outside the nature reserve.
“And there will be no structures on the surface level of the CCNR, which is the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. For the skirting alignment, the underground MRT tunnels may go through homes, businesses and buildings, and hence, acquisition may be needed."
Authorities said they will consider factors such as land use, transport links, and how it will affect residents and businesses before making any decision.
Thomson residents could be among those affected. The area's Member of Parliament (MP) said many residents have lived there for more than 40 years and hence, feel a sense of attachment to the estate.
Said Mr Chong Kee Hiong, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC: "Moving out of the estate, it's not so much about the home. It's more about the families, the memories that they have grown up with. The emotional attachment is difficult for them to break. At the same time, the disruption caused by the construction is also another matter."
Meanwhile, nature groups are hoping that increased awareness about Singapore's biodiversity will get the authorities to rethink the route for the Cross Island Line. The line could possibly cut beneath a one-kilometre stretch of primary forest near MacRitchie Reservoir.
Dr Amy Choong, a volunteer nature guide, and lecturer of Biological Science at the National University Singapore, said: "As people become more and more aware of our native biodiversity, found nowhere else, we hope they will write in to LTA or to give feedback to their Members of Parliament, to the Government. And as more people write in, then the Government will listen to what people want."
To that end, the nature groups have doubled the number of free walking tours for the month of March. Tours for the first half of the month are already fully subscribed.
The groups hope the proposed line can be rerouted south near Lornie Road to avoid the nature reserve entirely.
However, one expert said this may not be feasible due to the curvature of the road. Instead, he proposes going further out.
Professor Lee Der-Horng from the National University of Singapore’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, said: "We may want to consider if we can go through Bukit Brown since Bukit Brown in the future will be developed into a major population or residential area.
“If we let the future Cross Island Line negotiate the curves along Lornie Road, it's going to cause some negative impact on track maintenance and even the tunnel construction."