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    Feb 25, 2014

    LTA to suss out new MRT line's green impact

    THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) called for a tender yesterday to assess the environmental impact of a future MRT line on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

    The findings of the report, which is targeted to be completed in 2016, will help the Government decide on the route for the 50km Cross Island Line (CRL), of which a section will be located in the vicinity of the reserve.

    Tender documents show two "indicative corridors" to be studied: one passing through the gazetted reserve; and the other skirting it, along the fringe of Bukit Brown and the nature reserve. Both are expected to run underground.

    Announced in January last year, the CRL will connect Jurong and Changi, and is targeted for completion by 2030.

    Besides the environmental assessment, the Government will consider factors including connectivity, travel times, costs and land-use compatibility in deciding the route, LTA said.

    Physical activities within the nature reserve, such as soil investigation works, will be conducted only after the appointed consultant has provided guidelines and recommendations.

    Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo said yesterday that, while environmental assessments have been conducted for major maritime projects, a study of this scale is new for rail development.

    Mrs Teo added that it will be a few years before the route can be finalised and construction can begin.

    Included with the tender documents issued yesterday was a 125-page report put together by an environmental working group.

    The report details the rich flora and fauna in the MacRitchie zone, collated from 20 years of surveys and studies. The area is home to over 400 species of plants, more than 200 species of birds and over 170 butterfly species, among others.

    Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, one of the working group's members, hopes the group's involvement will continue and that the consultants will seek its expertise when necessary.

    "(The area) is a very special thing. If you go around the won't find any cities with a rainforest, with original forests, right in the middle," said the director of Strix Wildlife Consultancy.