SINGAPORE: Traffic conditions along Punggol East are set to ease as a new road connecting Punggol Central to the Tampines Expressway (TPE) and the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) was launched on Sunday (Nov 25) - almost a year ahead of schedule.
There is also a new connection from KPE leading to Punggol Central and Lorong Halus for motorists entering Punggol Town.
According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the use of advanced technologies and construction methods allowed it to save time and manpower, making it possible to complete the road ahead of schedule. It was originally planned to open in the third quarter of 2019.
Even as the construction process was expedited with the help of technology, it was not without obstacles. According to Hwa Seng Builder, the contractor of the project, there were constraints due to the road’s location near the Paya Lebar Air Base.
Mr Ali Abdullah, a safety officer at Hwa Seng Builder, said his team had to work around restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Defence.
“We had to work nights, in the wee hours of the morning, and our crane had to boom down at somewhere around 4-5am in order to accommodate the flight path route,” said Mr Ali.
He said that given the hilly terrain of the area, Hwa Seng Builder’s crane, when fully extended, would restrict the flight path of aircraft flying in and out of the Paya Lebar Air Base. The contractor was able to overcome those restrictions by working round the clock.
The new roads are welcomed by motorists, most of whom expect it to improve traffic conditions. Before the roads were opened, motorists coming from Punggol Central would have to drive through Punggol East to access the TPE - which caused traffic jams during peak periods. Those slip roads leading to the TPE and KPE were decommissioned as the new roads were opened.
“It's about four traffic lights before I can make a U-turn,” said Ms Rohana Amran, a Punggol resident referring to the peak-hour jams along Punggol East. “So with this road, we hope that it can ease the congestion.”
Another Punggol resident, Ms Michelle Koay, was optimistic that traffic conditions would be alleviated, but said the real test is when school reopens in January.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris - Punggol GRC Ng Chee Meng said launching the new link during the school holidays gives motorists time to familiarise themselves ahead of the new year.
“This is part of our planning, to let residents have a few weeks to get used to the system without the hustle and bustle of morning life,“ said Mr Ng. “So by the time Jan 2 comes, residents will be more used to the road.”
The LTA is also working to construct another vehicular bridge across Sungei Serangoon, flyovers across TPE and KPE, and a new road from Lorong Halus to Pasir Ris Industrial Drive 1 to improve traffic conditions in and out of Punggol. Those are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2021.