By Adrian Lim, Gilaine Ng
The Straits Times
May 17, 2015
Residents and businesses in Jalan Kayu are looking forward to a new, hopefully quieter, era with the opening of the Seletar Aerospace Flyover yesterday.
The dual three-lane extension of Sengkang West Road and flyover offer motorists an alternative way to get from Yio Chu Kang Road to the Tampines Expressway (TPE) and is expected to ease congestion along Jalan Kayu with its roti prata and other restaurants.
The one-lane Jalan Kayu is congested during weekday peak hours, as well as when foodies descend on the area in the evenings and on weekends.
Construction of the new flyover and its adjacent roads started in 2011and cost the Land Transport Authority (LTA) $80 million. It provides direct connections to the Central Expressway, Seletar Expressway and TPE, as well as to the Seletar Aerospace Park and Seletar airport.
Having run Golden Hill Auto Trading in Jalan Kayu for 30 years, Mr Ng Eng Hock is well acquainted with the traffic jams. He believes they have even deterred customers. “Those who are less confident drivers find it difficult to turn off from the main road into the workshop. So they don’t want to come,” the 60-year-old said in Mandarin.
Residents like housewife Sharon Lim, 60, who lives in Jalan Tari Piring – off Jalan Kayu – have also borne the brunt of the congestion. “We have to queue and wait to turn into our road. It’s frustrating for us because we have no other way to get home,” she added.
Many who live and work in Jalan Kayu said that traffic has become busier in the past two years, with many tipper trucks and lorries using the road.
This is likely due to the construction of public housing and private condominiums at the nearby Fernvale area.
Fernvale forms the western part of Sengkang which, when fully developed as a new town, will have 90,000 public and private homes.
“I see hundreds of lorries passing by every day. With the opening of the new road, it will be better here (in Jalan Kayu),” said Ms Uma Kumaresan, 33, manager of grocery store Jaytarrani.
With traffic being diverted away from Jalan Kayu, it is hoped that the shophouse-lined street will regain some of its idyllic charm.
In the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Draft Master Plan 2013, Jalan Kayu was designated as an “identity node”. It featured plans to spruce up the place with new pavements and greenery.
Some of those interviewed at Jalan Kayu were aware of the plans and said they were waiting to see what improvements would be made.
But while new roads are a welcome addition, residents and businesses said the infrastructure along the old road could still be insufficient to support the weekend crowds.
Jalan Kayu itself is narrow, and save for an open-air carpark with 135 spaces, parking is limited.
“The road gets congested when drivers slow down and hunt for parking spaces in front of the shophouses,” said Mr Vincent Heng, 29, a sales manager at Unilite Electronics Trading.
There is also no space for buses, garbage trucks and goods vehicles to pull over, and the traffic behind has to wait, added Mr Heng.
Moreover, the lure of good food will always pull in the crowds.
Madam Jenny Chan, 61, who moved into the area about eight months ago, said: “Singaporeans are always looking for good food, and the roti prata shops here are packed. The road will probably still be jammed because of that.”
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