LTA: Both possible alignments for CRL being studied

Straits Times Forum 21 Feb 16;

We thank all writers who have shared their views on the two possible alignments of the Cross Island MRT Line (CRL).

The Government is studying both underground alignments and no decision has been taken yet.

For the 4km direct alignment, 2km of the tunnel will be below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), while the other 2km is located outside it.

The section of the tunnel beneath the CCNR will be about 40m deep, depending on findings from ground investigations. There will not be any construction of infrastructure on the surface.

The skirting alignment, about 9km long, will require longer tunnels and extra ventilation facilities. Besides land and home acquisitions that could affect families, the extra works could incur $2 billion more in expenditure.

The two alignments may have different impacts on various stakeholders - the nature reserve, businesses, home owners, commuters and taxpayers.

The Government has a responsibility to study both thoroughly before making a decision. Ground investigations and engineering feasibility studies of both alignments have to be completed first.

For the upcoming ground investigations, following our extensive consultations with nature groups for the first phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), we are reducing the number of 10cm boreholes from 72 to 16, and confining them to public trails and existing clearings.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will complement these with non-intrusive geophysical survey methods and horizontal directional coring that will start from outside the CCNR. Thus, no vegetation will be cleared.

National Parks Board staff will accompany the contractors and consultants during all off-trail works to ensure that the greatest care is taken to protect the CCNR.

In making the decision on the alignment, the Government will have to consider the full range of factors, including the engineering feasibility of both alignments, distance and travel time for commuters, cost to taxpayers, and the impact on the CCNR and on businesses and families who may be affected by land acquisition under the skirting option.

Indeed, since the gazette of the EIA, home owners have asked to meet LTA and voiced their concerns over possible acquisition of their homes. They urge the Government to be objective, and to also take into account their concerns.

In response to requests from the public, the findings of Phase 1 of the EIA have been made available on the LTA website from last Friday.

We thank the public for sharing their views and will take into account the diverse concerns of different stakeholders.

Chew Men Leong
Chief Executive
Land Transport Authority


Cross Island Line: Govt studying route impact, has not made decision yet
CHEW MEN LEONG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY Today Online 22 Feb 16;

We thank all writers who have shared their views on the two possible alignments of the Cross Island Line (CRL).

The Government is studying both the underground alignments and no decision has been taken yet. For the 4km direct alignment, 2km of the tunnel will be below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR), while the other 2km is located outside it. The section of the tunnel beneath the CCNR will be about 40m deep, depending on findings from ground investigations. There will not be any construction of infrastructure on the surface.

The skirting alignment, about 9km long, will require longer tunnels and extra ventilation facilities. Besides land and home acquisitions that could affect families, the extra works could incur S$2 billion more in expenditure.

The two alignments may have different impacts on various stakeholders — the nature reserve, businesses, homeowners, commuters and taxpayers. The Government has a responsibility to study both thoroughly before making a decision. Ground investigations and engineering feasibility studies of both alignments have to be completed first.

For the upcoming ground investigations, following our extensive consultations with the nature groups for the first phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), we are reducing the number of 10cm-boreholes from 72 to 16, and confining them to public trails and existing clearings. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will complement these with non-intrusive geophysical survey methods and horizontal directional coring that will start from outside the CCNR. As such, no vegetation will be cleared. National Parks Board staff will accompany the contractors and consultants during all off-trail work to ensure that the greatest care is taken to protect the CCNR.

In making the decision on the alignment, the Government will have to consider the full range of factors, including the engineering feasibility of both alignments, distance and travel time for commuters, cost to taxpayers, and the impact on the CCNR and on businesses and families who may be affected by land acquisition under the skirting option. Indeed, since the gazette of the EIA, homeowners had asked to meet the LTA and voiced their concerns over the possible acquisition of their homes. They urged the Government to be objective, and also take into account their concerns.

In response to requests from the public, the findings of Phase 1 of the EIA have been made available on the LTA website from Feb 19. We thank the public for sharing their views and will take into account the diverse concerns of different stakeholders.


Cross Island Line sparks residents' fears
Adrian Lim Straits Times 21 Feb 16; and AsiaOne

Even as green groups lobby for the Cross Island Line (CRL) to be built around Singapore's largest nature reserve instead of cutting through it, residents are worried about the impact this will have on their homes and lives.

The proposed 9km option, which skirts the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, will run beneath a swathe of private homes near Upper Thomson Road, such as Windsor Park and Yew Lian Park. It then turns west under Lornie Roadbefore heading northwards, parallel to the Pan-Island Expressway.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said that it is studying both alignments for the CRL, a 50km line connecting Changi to Jurong and expected to open in 2030.


It has yet to make a decision.

If the option to go around the nature reserve is accepted, "underground MRT tunnels will go through homes, businesses and buildings, and acquisition may be needed", the authority said.

The media publicity surrounding the CRL project, following the release of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) two weeks ago, has left residents jittery.

The EIA report was put online on the LTA website on Friday so that the public can access it more easily. It provides an assessment of the environmental impact of site investigation works that will be performed for the two alignments.

For the other alignment skirting the reserve, the impact would mainly be noise disturbance to people, it found.

RESIDENTS' VIEWS

Yew Lian Park Residents' Association, which covers 216 landed homes, is firmly opposed to having the MRT line built through the estate.

Its president, 69-year-old Sangameswaran, who goes by one name, has been living in the area since 1964. "The MRT line's construction will affect us, and not just in terms of noise," he said.

"There is a strong possibility of some of us losing our homes. We'd rather the line go through the reserve," said the manager in a scaffolding company.

Mr Ong Tee Chew, 72, who has lived in a terrace house in Soo Chow Walk for more than 40 years, said he and his neighbours are a tight- knit bunch, like a "big kampung".

"No matter how much money they offer, I still wouldn't want to move," added Mr Ong, who works in construction.

Member of Parliament Chong Kee Hiong, who oversees the Bishan East-Thomson constituency, said the estates which the CRL could tunnel through are between 50 and 60 years old, with residents who have lived there for as long as 40 years.

Besides the emotional attachment some may have to their homes, residents are also worried about the added disruptions that the construction work may bring to the area, with one project coming after another.

Mr Chong said construction of the Thomson-East Coast Line tunnels and the nearby Upper Thomson station is ongoing and will finish only in 2020. Construction of the North-South Expressway, expected to start this year, will also affect the Marymount area. "It's one thing after another for the residents," he said.

The upside of having the CRL run through the Thomson area, Mr Chong said, may be a new MRT station that will boost connectivity.

But some residents feel this would not make much difference.

Mr Tyler Foo, 25, who just finished his undergraduate studies, said Marymount station, on the Circle Line, is a 10-minute walk from his home. The future Upper Thomson MRT station will be five minutes away. "Any added benefit from a new station will be insignificant."

Some residents, however, do not mind moving. Retiree Sim Song Koi, 77, who has lived for more than 40 years in a terrace house in Soo Chow View, said: "At my age, I don't really mind where I live, as my children have already moved out.

"As I will be compensated, I can just move to a new house - I don't need such a big one any more."

MORE CLARITY

What most residents agree on is the need for more clarity on the degree of land acquisition and disturbance.

The second phase of EIA to gauge the potential environmental impacts from the construction and operation of the line on both alignments will be finished this year.

Mr Christopher De Souza, chairman of the Windsor Park Residents' Association, said: "The authorities have not been specific about how much more time the alignment around the reserve will add to travel time, how much more it will cost to build, and how many houses and their location in our area may be acquired."

The association covers 225 terrace houses, semi-detached units and bungalows. The 62-year-old retiree added: "We're in the dark. With no details, everyone is imagining the worst-case scenario where theirs is the house that is taken away."

The LTA said it has been engaging the advisers and grassroots leaders in the area.

A meeting took place on Monday, with more to be held. Engineers believe that some land will have to be acquired, should planners choose to skirt the reserve.

Mr Chong Kee Sen, president of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, said above-ground ventilation shafts must be built along with the tunnels to remove stale air and allow fresh air to flow underground. On the shorter 1.8km tunnel that cuts through the nature reserve, these may not be needed, but the longer alignment will require them.

Vertical tunnels, from which the tunnel boring machines can be deployed, will also require land to be cleared. If the authorities decide on a new underground station, that will also need land.

MP Chong said: "At the end of the day, not everyone will be convinced, because we have conflicting objectives and needs in the country. But all views should be taken into consideration. The process is as important as the decision. "

•Additional reporting by Ng Keng Gene and Rachel Chia

Related links
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