Towns to get new roads to cope with BTO boom

HDB has already begun building roads, anticipating possible traffic congestion

Published on Oct 01, 2012

By Daryl Chin

THE Housing Board has promised that by the time a bumper crop of Build-to-Order (BTO) projects are completed in the next two years, roads around them will be able to cope with the boom in the number of residents.

Anticipating possible congestion, it said it has started constructing new roads within towns, and widening existing ones.

Last month, MPs Lee Bee Wah and Liang Eng Hwa lamented in Parliament that bad traffic conditions in their wards would only get worse, once new BTO projects were completed.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan had then acknowledged that in some instances, "vehicular network and rail access will take a much longer time than the construction of HDB flat precincts".

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an HDB spokesman said it will "implement the local road improvement works where required, and will ensure that these road infrastructure are completed by the time the BTO projects are built".

More than 20,000 flats are expected to be finished within the next two years, given a construction time of about three years. These are in areas like Woodlands, Jurong West, Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Panjang and Yishun.

But MPs and residents said traffic is already congested in some areas.

Yishun resident and aircraft technician Jeffrey Low, 34, said: "Right now it takes about 45 minutes to get on a feeder bus just to get to the train station because of bad traffic. And the buses and trains are always packed."

The area's MP, Ms Lee, is worried that the road network to support residents will be ready only a year after three BTO housing projects yielding about 2,200 dwelling units are completed by 2014, taxing already strained roads like Lentor Avenue.

Likewise, Mr Liang questioned whether sufficient infrastructure is in place to support the influx of some 4,600 households in eight BTO projects in Bukit Panjang in the next few years.

Bukit Panjang resident Chua Choong Thoong, who is also a residents' committee chairman, said residents have complained about traffic flow there in recent years.

He takes about an hour to drive to his workplace at Raffles Place - twice the time it takes during off-peak hours.

"The issue is not that there are more residents coming in, but if there are only three ways out of this estate and you increase the population here by about 50 per cent, the congestion is only going to get worse," said the 35-year-old accountant.

The HDB said it works with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) during the planning stage of new BTO projects. Once approved by LTA, it builds road networks within towns while LTA constructs arterial roads connecting to other towns. The HDB is currently widening an existing road at Yishun Street 41, and will create a new road at Street 51 by mid-2014. LTA will improve connectivity between Yishun and nearby expressways by 2015. The HDB is also constructing a new road off Bukit Panjang Ring Road by next year to support new developments.

But the MPs wonder if the measures will be implemented quick enough. Said Ms Lee: "Lentor Avenue is already jammed during morning and evening peak hours. I've asked LTA to expedite the works before the BTO projects are completed, otherwise the jam will get worse, but I've yet to receive a reply."

Added Mr Liang: "My worry is that the agencies have their hands so full that they may not be able to urgently deal with such local issues in a timely manner."

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