The Online Citizen

Bukit Brown crossroad – a viable alternative

March 27
13:42 2012

~ By Goh Si Gium ~

With the increased population in Singapore, we envision more land will be taken up by necessary infrastructure. Areas occupied by roads will also have to grow in order to accommodate the concomitant growth of the car population – which we recognise that the relevant agencies have implemented various measures to manage and curb this growth.

Over the years, these measures have included improvements to the road systems and the initiation of the ERP. At the same time, efforts have been made to make public transportation palatable to a wider section of the population – the greatly-expanded rail network being a case in point.

However, it has been demonstrated that these measures, touted as ways to slash or curb car numbers, have been largely unsuccessful. It must also be recognised that the car population cannot be allowed to grow unabated, especially when there is fierce competitive uses for limited land, and a measure of proportionality must prevail.

Regardless whether it is skewed one way or another, any measure should be for the greater good of the majority.

In this instance, an 8-lane highway is to be built that would allow for a smoother flow of traffic over a short stretch of road. This is essentially to address a localised problem for some transient periods of time. This problem could also be contributed by heavy and slow traffic-flow in regions immediately adjacent to Lornie Road. We ponder its necessity and its ability to ameliorate the bottleneck encountered here and further afield, in areas leading to and leading away from Lornie Road.

These glacial traffics hinder the flow of vehicles, including public buses which serve a greater proportion of the commuting public (and with schedules being disrupted as a result, it is not surprising that public transportation has been branded as unreliable).

Alternative Proposal

An alternative passage to the PIE could be implemented that alleviates congestion experienced along Lornie Road and its vicinity. With the continuing expansion of the rail network, it is also time to overhaul the overall measures in place to manage the car population.

The traffic coming from the north-east region of Singapore is largely channelled to the PIE via Lornie Road. The main axes leading to Lornie Road are Bartley Road, Upper Serangoon Road and the CTE, through Braddell Road. Lornie Road also receives substantial traffic coming down from Upper Thomson Road, serving the heartland areas of Bishan and Ang Mo Kio. 

Traffic going down Adam Road could may also be slowed down by the busy Farrer-Bukit Timah junction while the slip roads from Lornie Road into both directions of the PIE may be inadequate to support the volume.

Furthermore, the PIE itself may have been overwhelmed by heavy traffic, streaming from the east and city areas, as well as the north via the CTE. This, in turn, slows down the traffic joining and leaving PIE at that junction. Add to this the several schools that are situated around Whitley Road and Bukit Timah Road, and parents dropping off and picking up their children impede traffic further.

The confluence of these factors result in the entire wider area around and linked to Lornie Road being in the same state, slowed to a crawl during the peak hours!

In reality, Lornie Road merely serves as a conduit to channel traffic from one congested area to another where motorists passing through the snarl along Lornie Road still finding themselves inching their way through many of the consequent roads with their myriad of intersections. During the peak hours, the traffic exceeds the carrying capacitiy of Lornie Road and others that are either feeding traffic into or draining traffic from it.

Some Solutions

The lighted junction of Sime Road and Lornie Road serves the needs of just a small number of cars leaving the SICC, yet it contributes substantially to the congestion. This lighted junction should be done away with.

The capacity of the PIE can be doubled with an extensive viaduct built over the expressway (akin to West Coast/Pasir Panjang Road and Upper Serangoon Road, near Lor Lew Lian) as a two-tier highway.

With the approach of leaving Bukit Brown entirely intact, a viaduct can start from the Thomson/Marymount/Braddell junction area (marked as Junction A in the map below) above Thomson Road, head southward towards the old Police Academy, and swing west at the corner along the PIE, west of the Thomson Flyover (marked as Junction B in the map).

A slip road can allow traffic to join the PIE towards the East while a viaduct follows the course of the PIE over Mount Pleasant Flyover (marked as Bottleneck 2) and Adam Flyover (marked as Bottleneck 1). This viaduct could rejoin the PIE somewhere before the Eng Neo Exit (or even before Exit 22).

Alternatively, it can continue westward to reach the BKE as well. Towards the east, this viaduct can link up with the CTE and perhaps continue beyond. Such a viaduct would allow for a large part of the east-west traffic to avoid the junctions in question that are feeding traffic into the PIE or bleeding traffic to the surrounding regions, thus allowing some unhindered traffic on the viaduct that enables motorists to bypass junctions and exit roads that have no relevance to their journey. At the same time, these measures de-congest the PIE itself, easing traffic flow in and out of peripheral roads.

This suggestion is not unlike the existing West Coast/Pasir Panjang Road viaduct and Upper Serangoon (passing Paya Lebar Methodist Church) viaduct that allow motorists unimpeded travel.

Change Road Planning Strategy

In addition to this specific recourse, doubling the capacity of main carriageways through multi-tier methodology should be carried out more widely as it allows the capacity of existing land devoted to roads to be harnessed by several hundred percent. This approach allows the conversion of new land to roads to be avoided, enabling existing land space to retain its present purpose benefit to other segments of the population (i.e. other than motorists). In essence, we can ‘double exploit' the thousands of square kilometres of existing road surface that already cover a substantial amount of land in Singapore.

With direct reference to Bukit Brown, the grounds should be left in its existing state. The value of natural greenery can be easily quantified by its biodiversity, climatic and environmental moderation, aesthetic and therapeutic benefits. But the quality matters a great deal too. While open grasslands such as golf courses are greenery too, they are not substantive and lack diversity and biomass.

Spaces need to be set aside for times when the populace is not involved in contributing to the GDP. Nature areas play valuable roles although they seem idle. Their contribution to the GDP is by providing the counterbalance to a hectic lifestyle that can rejuvenate the people. They also contribute to the GDP through healthy productivity and optimal consumption of resources.

Nature heals in mysterious ways. Sometimes unquantifiable, they nevertheless have immense power and value and contribute positively to the national ‘pie’ – our economy.

Overall, the proposed highway through Bukit Brown will not alleviate the jam if the downstream hiccups are not done away with. Looking at an even wider area, the traffic snarl in fact covers areas greater than just Lornie Road itself. In fact, the highway could result in a greater volume of vehicles being trapped and crawling through the jam, thus spewing toxic gases into the atmosphere. It is rather apparent that a more comprehensive study is needed for a proper solution to be formed.

On a wider perspective, it is a very expensive undertaking to accommodate more cars on our limited road system – in terms of the resources and their impact on the health of the environment and the population.

Perhaps a more comprehensive panel with a macro-level view can relook the overall infrastructural needs and gather consultation from many segments and experts. Such a panel should duly and rigorously explore all ideas, concepts and projections – however mundane or radical – and not hastily dismiss any.

The relevant agencies must be forthcoming in seeking expert input – even the non-mainstream ones. Pertinent information must also be freely shared so that the consultation can cover all aspects beyond the immediate concerns. Only then can a convincing outcome be achieved – one that is acceptable to all.


Headline photo by Catherine Lim, courtesy of All Things Bukit Brown

This article first appeared as a note on the facebook page of the Nature Society (Singapore)


  • Chanel

    1) PAP govt is just testing the waters by building a new road through Bukit Brown. Bukit Brown will eventually be totally eradicated to make way for residential properties. This to house an additional 1.5 million foreigners that the govt wants, to make population size of 6.5 million.
    2) SICC golf courses are untouchables

  • iROADigger

    in which country of the whole wide world that do not hav a bottleneck? this is XTRA talks…

  • Damn

    You've said it, and said it well.
    In time to come, that area will still be congested as ever. At the end of the day, BB will be detroyed for, only to benefit the miw. 

  • Libran

    The PAP govt. had better take heed of the people's opposition to further increasing the population. This policy is suicidal. Ideally the population should be fixed at around 4 million, as currently the 5 million population is already proving too much.
    If the PAP govt. does not pay heed to this advice, my vote and all my relatives' votes (possibly all my friends' too) will go to the opposition in 2016.

  • BK

    I think the PAP itself also can't tahan their own blind ultra-liberal immigration policy. One of their aims is hoping to convert new citizens into votes but such policy is also turning away supports by the drove. After blindly letting in millions, they themselves got scared and are taking a breather. Now then they want to conduct a study on future population growth after some punishment at the poll. Nevertheless, better late than never.

  • lim

    The simpler (more popular and much cheaper) solution would have just been to expand Lornie Road rather than a multi-billion $ viaduct or a bridge or whatever.
    SICC won't even be affected as the land for expansion would have been taken on the opposite side of the road. It would still have eaten 5000 graves but nobody would have complained cos its taking it at the periphery.

  • Chan Kok Wee

    Golf courses growing bigger and bigger. People living spaces shrinking smaller and smaller.

  • zming

    The PAP govt has clearly lost its ‘moral compass’ this time. They only know the shortest distance from point A to point B is a highway, so just bulldoze away the local heritage as long as it is not golf. If the ultimate goal is to develop housing, they are probably hoping that when the highway has destroyed the most beautiful and historically most important graves, people will just forget the whole thing and let them destroy the rest. There are still a few years to go before the next GE, just give the people some rebates before the election and feed them some porridge, Singaporeans are that cheap anyway. Not forgetting the govt will have more new immigrants to back them up by then.

  • Tan Choon Hong

    The proposed short cut through BB is a repeat of the Stamford Road Tunnel that cut motoring time by seconds, but destroyed the iconic National Library. Just widen Lornie Road or build a second level. One year’s road tax and COEs can more than cover the cost. Leave the dead to their eternal rest till all the golf courses and unused state land have been fully developed before we dig up the graves of our pioneers whose blood, sweat and tears help put Singapore where it is today. 

  • what change

    If the government is serious to engage the citizens then they should explore  all possibilities as proposed by all interested parties in order  to keep a part of our history and our heritage. Thank you Si Gim for proposing an alternative that sounds very workable. i hope the premise of all government bodies in making any changes to our limited land is to preserve, and  conserve rather than to destroy.

  • Prabu

    Dear fellow Singaporeans for the last 10 years or so we can see how the civil service & policies crafted by the government is favoring foreigners over Singaporeans. There is a sense of double standards as if if you are a foreigner you are automatically a talent, if you are a local Singaporean you are discriminated while jobs, education scholarships etc at our expense is given away to foreigners.

    In recent days the above mentioned just got worst as some foreigners brought crime along to our Singapore. Cases such as the 24 year old PRC who raped a 13 year old girl.

    Now there has been cases of potential kidnap of young children and the police dismissed it by "warning Singaporeans not to spread rumors"

    We need to come together, as many of us in huge numbers, to demand transparency from government, the police, immigration authorities and hold them accountable for the current sad state of events our country is in.

    Come rally with me for "A Rally for Singaporeans"
    Venue: Hong Lim Park
    Date:31st March 2012
    Time: 5pm

    Yours truly,

    PS: If you want to be a speaker or help with this event email me @ or SMS to 92230514

  • Out of this world solution

    Did anyone read about land allocated for international schools? This is land totally for use by foreigners!
    On transport, it is time these world's highest paid come up with something totally out of this world, not same old same old build bigger, build taller, build more.  They are paid by the $mils! Come on, show to the world you don't just copy others solutions.

  • mice is nice

    hi Out of this world solution,
    yeah, i read about land allocated for international schools. no land for S'porean needs, but there always is land for foreigners. much like certain HDB flats initially marked to be torn down & rebuild, IIRC local renters get chased out, then HDB proxies rent the whole blocks to foreign workers. not sure what agreement/deal do the HDB proxies have with companies that hire those foreign workers though…

  • andrew leung

    PAP top dog work for Kempetai before. Don't expect sympathy for your grave site. PAP philosophy is Tian An Men Square, they will excercise emergency power anytime. We are expendable.

  • truth

    Pl see tan chuan jin’s parliamentary speech on 5 mar for explanation of road options. It is on you tube. Decide for yourself

  • Chippie

    COMPROMISE!!!! Both sides of the debate has it’s merits, as with most arguments go. My 2.14 cents worth of opinion, including GST, is

    1) confirm preservation of part of, say 30% of BB, under some historical act or similar by parliament, and reLy PRESERVE, not just let it rot.

    2) convert the said 30% into a walkable cemetery cum park.

    3) govt to use Land Acquisition Act to acquire tracts of land from SICC for the said road expansion project.

    4) scrap the money wasting viaduct idea, and use the funds for that to preserve and maintain what’s left of BB, even build a educational/historical centre nearby.



  • Smudger

    Great suggestion efforts..seems practical and workable….BUT no can do as the Ministers will be concerned by flyover drive-by shootings (at them) since many of them idle at SICC.

  • Truth

    Taking over sicc does not help ease the traffic congestion lah. The road needs to join up to marymount side.

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