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    Jan 07, 2014

    All's smooth on MCE 1 week on

    FEARS of traffic snarls on the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) as many returned to work after the year-end holiday proved unfounded yesterday.

    Traffic was generally smooth during the morning and evening rush hour on the new highway, and at its exits and surrounding roads - such as Central Boulevard - that link to the Central Business District.

    The situation was unlike last Monday's gridlock, the first working day after the MCE opened, when motorists were caught in jams for hours.

    Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said yesterday that he does not think design issues were to blame for last Monday's jams, and that the verdict on MCE will be clearer in two to three weeks.

    "I think if you open any major new road, where you have quite a number of changes and people have to familiarise themselves with these changes, it will take a bit of time to settle," he said.

    A combination of rainy weather and a heavier volume of vehicles compared to last month, as well as an accident on the East Coast Parkway (ECP) towards the city, led to slow-moving traffic on other roads yesterday morning.

    The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said traffic volume yesterday had returned to the normal level seen on a typical weekday.

    Mr Lui said that LTA will continue to monitor traffic, as well as make signage improvements and tweaks so motorists have a smoother commute.

    Road improvements in the Marina South area, such as the straightening of Central Boulevard, will improve traffic flow, he added. The boulevard will be expanded to a full five-lane road by the third quarter of this year.

    Banking sales manager Anthony Lim, 38, decided to "play safe" yesterday by avoiding the MCE. He exited the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) at Keppel Road to get to his office in the Marina Bay Financial Centre, but found himself stuck in traffic. He plans to use the MCE again from today.

    Investment-bank executive Kelvin Tan, 29, left his Queenstown home at 9.15am, driving to the AYE and then the MCE before exiting at Central Boulevard. He said the journey took him 15 minutes, compared to 75 minutes last Monday.

    National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng reckons that some motorists may still be avoiding the MCE.

    The LTA must continue to keep close tabs on the situation, which could worsen in the future with upcoming developments, he said.

    Professor Lee noted that a lot of traffic is being channelled into the Marina area. "Traffic on Central and Marina boulevards is going to be very heavy in the future, when the area is developed," he said.

    He added that, with developments in the west, there will be a lot of traffic headed towards the east in the future, and he is unsure if the two-lane exit from the MCE to ECP will be sufficient then.

    "If one of the two lanes becomes unavailable, it's going to (be) a huge problem."