Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Singapore's glittering Autobahn, Part 2

Note: Wikiepedia pix shows the current causeway linking southern Singapore and Sentosa island. The other causeway, which connects northern Singapore and Malaysia, has been retarding the flow of water in the dirty Straits of Johor for more than eight decades.

It's great to read about the latest plan to improve traffic access to the tourist island of Sentosa from Singapore's mainland.

According to The Straits Times, the roads leading to Sentosa, VivoCity and HarbourFront will be widened to cater to an anticipated increase in traffic into the area. With one of Singapore's two integrated resorts opening on Sentosa and new condominiums to be built in the area by 2010, traffic is likely to go up by 30 per cent, said the Land Transport Authority yesterday.

The ST article didn't mention it, but earlier news reports had said that Genting International's Resorts World at Sentosa -- the developer of the integrated resort and casino on Sentosa -- had started work on the second bridge to link Sentosa and the mainland.

The second bridge is aimed at easing visitor traffic as over 15 million of them are expected to visit the Resort when it opens in early 2010 or 2011. The report said the 710-metre, 3-lane bridge will run parallel to the existing causeway which connects Sentosa to the mainland. And when completed in September 2009, both will be merged.

The latest roadwork and the new Sentosa bridge will be a great addition to the new transport blueprint unveiled by the government in the past two weeks. Apart from plans to improve the public transportation system, the government will build the North-South Expressway by 2020. Singapore's Autobahn will cost S$8 billion, or at a stggering S$381 million per km.

Many locals and foreigners will enjoy seamless travel from Sentosa to the rest of Singapore, thanks to the government's transportation blueprint.

But they will almost certainly hit a major road bump should they wish to cross over to the southern Malaysian city of Johor Baru. The two countries have not been able to work together to jointly build a bridge to replace the old and congested causeway. A new and wider overhead bridge, which will have many benefits, shouldn't cost more than S$1 billion each.

This is a rough estimate based on the two countries' construction bill of over RM2.4 billion (slightly more than S$1 billion based on today's exchange rate) to jointly build the longer Second Link bridge when bilateral ties were a lot warmer in the mid-1990s.

Malaysia's bill came up to more than RM1.2 billion. Singapore's portion was last reported to be about S$600 million.

A new bridge to ease the massive cross-border flow between Malaysia and Singapore makes good sense. ST had earlier estimated about 250,000 people enter Malaysia via the causeway every day. This works out to more than 90 million people each year, which is a staggering number as it is nearly 20 times the population of Singapore. The traffic volume at the causeway is 6 times higher than the projected number of visitors to Sentosa.

It will be ideal if one could travel from Sentosa all the way to Malaysia seamlessly one day via two wide bridges and the glittering S$8-billion Autobahn.

1 comment:

zamanski said...

I can't agree you with you more on this sophie...the Causeway has to go. Malaysia is all ready to dismantle the causeway and build the bridge together with Singapore, but is Singapore ready ? The Short answer is No.

It needs two to tango on this one, and even Gung Ho approaches by Malaysia in 2006 did not sway Singapore into entering the bridge building process. Its really sad b'cos breaking the causeway would definitively clear a lot of mess on the Johor straits.

The only hope is that the Singapore leadership takes a longer term view on this and agree to a new bridge for the sake of the community on both sides of the straits. Currently the Sing leadership seems to be too obsessed with its insecurities and potential loss of business and trying to bring other outstanding issues into the picture. I hope Malaysia & Singapore would be able to leave their differences aside when dealing with this issue.