Dear ASS Editors,

It seems that LTA has adopted a shortcut mentality and forgotten that the detour only takes two additional kilometres.

Reports in 2013 on the Cross Island Line showed that it is possible to avoid going through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve by taking a short detour. This detour was estimated to be between 1.7 and 2 km.

Many Singaporeans believe that protecting flora and fauna is not as important as serving the people who live here. However, most people think that way because it has always seemed as if protecting wildlife will create a huge burden for us. This is not the case when it comes to the Cross Island Line.

A 2 km detour will mean 1 minute of additional travelling time at most. Surely this is a small price to pay for protecting our natural heritage.

Christopher Tan from Straits Times has also raised several issues with the LTA’s approach. It appears that they have neglected to give sufficient consideration to the benefits of serving the areas south of the nature reserve. By taking the detour, the new MRT line can serve residents in Thomson, Lornie and Adam roads, and those from Bukit Brown.

By serving residents there, the strain on the transportation infrastructure in those areas can be alleviated, making it possible to support a denser population. The economic benefits from this outweigh the additional cost of a 2 km detour.

One of the LTA’s concerns is cost and engineering problems. This doesn’t make sense. The cost of trying to build through a nature reserve without affecting any of the wildlife will be immense. A lot of conservation efforts will need to be made and this might even compromise the safety of the line.

During the Environmental Impact Assessment, LTA chose to drill 16 boreholes instead of 72 as a concession to the Nature Society. However, according to one of the engineers interviewed by Channel News Asia, this was ideal as the boreholes are important to determine the ground conditions.

If so many compromises must be made to protect the nature reserve, why not simply build around it? We have built new MRT lines in populated areas before without any major problems so that is also not a good reason.

It is time to stop looking for shortcuts and face up to the facts that building transport infrastructure is not cheap. Cost may be an issue but the government should foot the bill. Consider it an investment.

Ronald Chan
A.S.S. Contributor

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