Construction of two more stations along the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) has officially begun.
Mount Pleasant and Stevens MRT stations are part of Stage 3 of the TEL which are slated to open by 2021. But two years ahead of that, residents can look forward to a new underpass, which will be built under the Bukit Timah Canal to link Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS) with Stevens MRT station.
The underpass, 60m long and reaching 11m deep at its lowest point, will be one of the first in Singapore to be built with a rectangular tunnel boring machine.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the two TEL stations yesterday (Jan 24), said the underpass meant residents and students would have a “more comfortable and safer alternative” to cross the busy Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road.
“We’re going to put emphasis on building that pedestrian link as part of the construction works, and we’re going to make sure that we open it earlier, before 2021, so that it’s easier for residents on both sides to get across, without having to use the traffic lights. And I think it will benefit the residents, students and staff of SCGS who will have a more comfortable and safer alternative to cross these very busy roads,” Mr Lui said.
Asset manager William Tan, who lives near Botanic Gardens MRT station, said: “Both my girls are studying in SCGS. In the morning, there’s always a traffic jam along Stevens Road and the junction – sometimes I get stuck in the traffic for 20 to 30 minutes.
“But with the MRT station, hopefully in a couple of years’ time, my girls can take the train to school, and that’ll be quite safe because there’ll be an underground tunnel to walk to the school. So I’m very much looking forward to Stevens MRT station.”
The underpass will be built using a box jack rectangular tunnel boring machine, a first in Singapore.
Mr Henry Foo, project director of LTA’s TEL Civil Team 3, said: “For a typical underpass structure in LTA’s MRT projects, we would undertake what we call a cut and cover construction method. It will require diversion of surface activities, be it the road, the drain or the canal or whatever it is. We also would need to divert the utilities underground before we can do the underground structure.
“In using this box jack rectangular TBM, we will avoid the need to compromise the surface activities and create the underground structure in a trenchless manner.” Mr Foo added that using a boring machine for the underpass can help reduce manpower by about 30 per cent.
Disruptions to surface activity will be reduced with the use of boring machines to build the train tunnels and underpass. But road diversions will be unavoidable, along a 200m stretch of Stevens Road until 2019, while the Stevens station is being built.
Over at Mount Pleasant, a similar challenge is to ensure existing buildings are not disrupted by the construction of the station. But some parts of the Old Police Academy will be torn down to make way for the station.
Mr Lui said Mount Pleasant MRT station will cater to students and staff at Catholic Junior College and also serve the new residential developments around the Old Police Academy.