Residents split over new Bukit Brown road

ST News
Feb 7, 2012

Residents split over new Bukit Brown road
Those in Sime Road worry about noise, while Lornie residents expect less traffic

By Royston Sim & Goh Chin Lian

TWO sets of residents have mixed reactions regarding the building of a road through Bukit Brown cemetery.

While those who live along Sime Road are upset that they will have to put up with noise and pollution once the dual four-lane road to run behind their homes is operational, those residing along Lornie Road will have some reason to cheer.

They can expect less traffic on the busy carriageway after it is reduced to a dual two-lane road when the Bukit Brown road is completed in 2016.

Work on the estimated 2km new road - which will start from Lornie Road, cut through Bukit Brown and join Adam Road before the Pan-Island Expressway exits - is expected to begin early next year.

There are 19 bungalows and semi-detached houses along Sime Road. Besides citing noise and pollution concerns, residents like Mr Daniel Goh, 63, also expressed concern that the new road would cut off their access to Kheam Hock Road.

Now, Sime Road leads to Kheam Hock Road, which in turn connects to Dunearn or Bukit Timah road.

The residents will no longer have that direct access after the new road is built. Mr Goh said that during a meeting last October, Land Transport Authority (LTA) officials said an underpass would be created off Lornie Road so residents could use that instead to access Kheam Hock Road.

Besides the inconvenience of a longer drive to use the proposed underpass, Mr Goh fears an accident on the new road could divert traffic back to Lornie Road and clog up that carriageway too. 'We are very worried. They are going to choke off our entrance and exit,' said the retiree, who has lived in Sime Road since 1987.

Traffic along Lornie Road is not that bad except during peak hours, he added, so he feels it is 'mind-boggling' that the LTA would want to create a new road with eight lanes instead of just expanding Lornie Road, which has seven lanes in both directions.

Another Sime Road resident, who wanted to be known only as Ms Tay, said it would definitely be a lot noisier with the new road behind her home. 'Urbanisation is good, but you have to retain... what makes Singapore beautiful,' said the 25-year-old student.

Grassroots leader Michael Ng said about 30 residents turned up at the LTA meeting last October. They live in semi-detached houses and bungalows along Lornie Road and Sime Road, and represented about half of the 50 to 60 households that grassroots leaders had informed about the meeting.

Mr Ng, chairman of the Dunearn Neighbourhood Committee for the area, recalled that the LTA had shown a map of the proposed road then.

He said it could not confirm the alignment of the road at the meeting as it had to take into account the position of the graves, which he was told had not yet been documented.

'The residents know the road will come out from Adam Road, but how near to or how far from their homes, they don't know,' he added.

No further meetings with the LTA have been scheduled.

Even so, there are those who are glad that the new road will divert traffic away from Lornie Road.

Counselling psychologist Georgina Chin, who is in her mid-40s and lives in Wallace Way, said it would be easier to turn out to Lornie Road. It can be difficult now because of heavy traffic and cars speeding towards Adam Road. She added: 'The noise is awful. I genuinely look forward to the noise level going down.'

Others opposed to the new road include heritage groups.

In a position paper released last Saturday, the Singapore Heritage Society said it was 'deeply disappointed' with the Government's decision to go ahead with plans to build the road - as mentioned in a Facebook post by Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin last Friday.

It expressed regret that the Government did not hold consultations prior to the decision and urged the authorities to consider 'alternatives that would not destroy the heritage value in the cemetery'.

The LTA has said that the road would affect just 5 per cent - or about 5,000 - of the 100,000 graves there.

Bukit Brown has been earmarked by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for long-term residential use.