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Roads around Padang may be closed in future

SINGAPORE — As part of plans to make the Civic District more pedestrian-friendly, roads around the Padang, such as parts of St Andrew’s Road, Anderson Bridge and Fullerton Road, may be closed to traffic in future.

SINGAPORE — As part of plans to make the Civic District more pedestrian-friendly, roads around the Padang, such as parts of St Andrew’s Road, Anderson Bridge and Fullerton Road, may be closed to traffic in future.

The changes will create bigger civic open spaces and allow pedestrians to stroll freely in a car-free environment, in line with the proposals under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Draft Master Plan 2013.

For a start, Empress Place and Parliament Lane will be permanently car-free by 2015 to integrate the buildings in the vicinity into a seamless, park-like setting, said the URA.

Connaught Drive will be narrowed by one lane and a drop-off and pick-up point will be created for tour coaches. Part of Fullerton Road will be realigned to enlarge the lawn in front of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the Asian Civilisations Museum.

To accommodate this change, part of the F1 track will be realigned.

The URA said it will study the temporary closure of Anderson Bridge, Fullerton Road, St Andrew’s Road and Parliament Place to traffic during weekends or for events.

It may eventually close these roads permanently to all traffic, except public buses and such. Right now, roads like Ann Siang Hill, Club Street, Haji Lane and Circular Road are turned into pedestrian-only streets at certain times.

The agency said it will take a “phased approach” and consider the opinions of local stakeholders and the public.

Urban planners TODAY spoke to were split on whether more areas in the Civic District should go car-free.

“While there should be no problem pedestrianising selected small stretches, as long as there are alternative routes, it is harder to justify permanently closing off a major thoroughfare unless there is a sustained crush of people at all hours,” said Associate Professor Ng Wai Keen, Programme Director (Urban Planning) at the National University of Singapore.

“It is important to have some vehicular traffic, especially public transport, flowing, as it is about accessibility and mobility, and is part of the urban experience,” he added.

President of the Singapore Institute of Planners, Mr William Lau, pointed out that some towns, such as Tampines and Toa Payoh, already have car-free town centres.

A car-free zone that Mr Lau is in favour of is the shopping belt Orchard Road — with the diversion of traffic through roads such as Orchard Boulevard. “There is a fear that it might not succeed as there isn’t enough pedestrian density, but I feel there are enough crowds moving around the area to make it an excellent pedestrianised shopping area,” he said.

Other plans for the Civic District under the Master Plan include make-overs for parks — more public seating, night lighting and better signs to help the public navigate the area.

To allow people to get closer to the waterfront, railings along the promenade of Esplanade Park will be removed and replaced with stepped plazas and “an urban beach”.

The enhancement of the parks is expected to be completed by 2015.

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URA plan

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