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No decision made yet on Cross Island Line alignment, Govt to study all options

SINGAPORE — With potential impact across a broad spectrum of stakeholders — the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, businesses, home owners, commuters and taxpayers — the Government has “a responsibility” to study both Cross Island Line alignment options thoroughly, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA), stressing no decision on the alignment has been made.

No decision made yet on Cross Island Line alignment, Govt to study all options

Trail runners at MacRitchie Reservoir. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — With potential impact across a broad spectrum of stakeholders — the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, businesses, home owners, commuters and taxpayers — the Government has “a responsibility” to study both Cross Island Line alignment options thoroughly, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA), stressing no decision on the alignment has been made.

In a letter addressing public concern after the report on phase one of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was released earlier this month, LTA chief executive Chew Men Leong, also offered a glimpse at the future MRT line’s possible cost: The longer option, which will skirt around the nature reserve, could cost S$2 billion more in extra works and result in land and home acquisition.

Debate over the best alignment option for the Cross Island Line and the potential impact on the nature reserve reignited after the EIA report, done by an external consultant, was gazetted on Feb 5.

With strong public interest, the LTA last Friday made the rare move of posting the report online; previously, the public would have to make an appointment to inspect any of the five copies available at the LTA. The report detailed the effects that site investigation work for the line would have on the nature reserve. The two options being studied are a 4km “direct” line that will see 2km of the tunnel run under the nature reserve, and a 9km “skirting” option that goes around the reserve along Lornie Road.

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

“Indeed, since the gazette of the EIA, homeowners had asked to meet LTA and voiced their concerns over possible acquisition of their homes. They urged the Government to be objective, and take into account also their concerns,” he said.

If a tunnel were built under the nature reserve, Mr Chew said it would be 40m deep, depending on findings from ground investigations, and there will not be any construction of infrastructure on the surface. The skirting option 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,” Mr Chew said.

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

He also pointed out that care will be taken during site investigation works to minimise environmental impact. For example, survey and coring work will start outside the nature reserve and no vegetation will be cleared.

“To protect the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, National Parks Board staff will accompany contractors and consultants during all off-trail works,” said Mr Chew.

The LTA also previously said it had reduced the number of boreholes needed for the site investigation work from 72 to 16.

The second phase of the EIA will be completed by the end of this year, and will assess the impact of construction and operation of the future MRT line.

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