More underground walkways in the pipeline

URA to more than double existing network, with 16.5km of pedestrian links planned
Published: 4:02 AM, December 16, 2013
Updated: 9:10 PM, December 16, 2013

SINGAPORE — Walking from one building to another within the city without getting drenched or scorched will become easier, with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) planning to more than double the existing network of underground pedestrian walkways.

About 16.5km of such walkways are in the pipeline and will add to the existing 12.5km of such underground connections, according to the draft master plan the URA released last month. And while most of these links will be in the central area, the authorities are also looking at building connections near MRT stations in “key growth areas”, said a spokesperson.

“These are both underground and elevated networks, depending on whether the stations are above or below ground, such as the elevated J-Walk at Jurong Lake District,” she said, in response to TODAY’s queries.

Although the URA did not elaborate on where some of these areas might be, the North Coast Innovation Corridor and Southern Waterfront City have previously been highlighted as two new commercial nodes the Government will develop. Jurong Lake District, Kallang Riverside and Paya Lebar Central have also been identified as upcoming commercial hubs.

Currently, the most extensive underground links are along Orchard Road, as well in the Central Business District and Marina Bay area. For example, a shopper can walk from Tangs and Shaw Centre to Wheelock Place, ION Orchard, Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City without going outdoors.

How soon additional underground walkways will come on stream within the city centre, however, will depend on when building owners undertake redevelopment work. This is because “many existing buildings cannot accommodate such links without major alteration works or redevelopment of the sites”, said the URA. For example, some of these buildings may not have any basement space to connect to adjacent buildings.

But the URA pointed out that the construction of underground pedestrian links has been included as part of development plans for sites released under the Government Land Sales programme. The completion of Orchard Gateway next year, for instance, will see five more developments linked by pathways around Somerset MRT Station — Orchard Central and Centrepoint were recently connected by basement links.

Marina Bay is also one of the areas slated for more such underground connections as additional sites are released for development.

Pedestrians TODAY interviewed welcomed the plan. Said analyst Sim Wen Bing, 26: “It’s good that the city area be made weather-proof. It would improve accessibility and take away at least one stress factor of getting to work.”

Some, like risk management executive Simon Lim, also backed building more pedestrian links in areas outside the city centre. The 28-year-old cited Chinatown as a possibility: “The city area is already well-connected to MRT stations and to nearby buildings, so a connection to Chinatown MRT Station as well would close the loop.”