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ST Forum, Sep 16, 2011

Rethink road widening affecting cemetery
I AM shocked by the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) plans for a dual four-lane road along Lornie Road and the Pan-Island Expressway that will cut into the existing Bukit Brown Cemetery, affecting some 5,000 of the estimated 100,000 graves ('New road to ease Lornie Road jams'; Tuesday).

Although the cemetery, with its rich cultural heritage, is reserved housing land, plans for the road extension are premature. There is insufficient research into the area's historical and ecological value for a more informed judgment.

Given the scarcity of space, road widening runs contrary to developing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation system, an issue which previous transport minister Raymond Lim had acknowledged.

He had stated that increasing road capacity and deploying traffic engineering measures would not in themselves guarantee smooth-flowing roads ('Keeping traffic flowing smoothly'; Jan 31, 2008). Additional lanes and new roads would attract more traffic and congestion would soon return.

His remarks apply precisely to Lornie Road. Decades-long efforts of road widening and other civil engineering works resulting in the appearance of a network of viaducts streaming into even Braddell and Upper Thomson Roads have not improved traffic conditions.
These measures will also create more discomfort for residents in the vicinity as they find their surroundings increasingly replaced by noisy and inhospitable vehicle carriageways.

The LTA should consider alternatives first, including Electronic Road Pricing.
With ERP, motorists can be persuaded not to choke the Lornie Road exit and use less congested exits along Bukit Timah Road, Eng Neo Avenue and Jalan Toa Payoh.

If we persist with the short-term solution of road widening, the traffic problem will not be solved. Transport planners must come up with more imaginative, culturally sensitive and environmentally sustainable solutions.

Liew Kai Khiun

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