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MCE's coming out party is spoilt by jams

ALL JAMMED UP: Heavy morning traffic on the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) left motorists fuming on the second day of operation yesterday, with bottlenecks clogging entrances and exits and a handful of accidents slowing traffic further. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES


    Dec 31, 2013

    MCE's coming out party is spoilt by jams

    A DRIVE that normally takes 20 minutes turned into a three-hour crawl.

    A taxi ride that usually costs $16 ended up with a painful $60 payout.

    With bottlenecks clogging the Marina Coastal Expressway's (MCE's) entrances and exits and a handful of accidents slowing traffic further along the way, MCE's second day of operation saw many motorists fuming.

    Many were late for work.

    The $4.3-billion MCE links the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in the west, to the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) in the east and is Singapore's costliest expressway to date, with five lanes in both directions.

    Mr Ivan Toh, 38, said he takes around 20 minutes to drive from Commonwealth to his wife's office at Suntec City, but yesterday morning's trip took close to three hours.

    Traffic ground to a crawl after he exited the MCE to get onto Central Boulevard, he said.

    "It was a chokepoint, because you also have vehicles coming from the east funnelling into that exit. We spent more than two hours on a stretch of around 3km," added the engineer.

    Civil servant Grace Chiang, 29, drove two hours to reach Sentosa from Marine Parade, a journey which she said typically takes 20 minutes. Another said that she had to pay a taxi fare of $60 for a jouney that usually costs $16, because she was caught in traffic.

    To improve traffic circulation in the road network adjoining the MCE, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that a short stretch of Central Boulevard will be immediately converted from two lanes to four lanes.

    More temporary signs at key approaches will be put up to alert motorists to the road-network changes and traffic wardens will continue to be deployed, LTA added.

    Other drivers whom MyPaper spoke to complained about the severe tailback caused by a bottleneck at the Fort Road exit.

    Lawyer Mark Quek, 30, said: "There were just two lanes... That's not enough release of the traffic (from the expressway)."

    Transport expert Lee Der Horng from the National University of Singapore said the Rochor Road exit on the ECP is a popular one, but as motorists are unable to access that route now, they will likely use the Fort Road exit instead.

    Dr Lee said two lanes at that exit may be "insufficient" to meet the traffic demand, but added that travel patterns over time may show otherwise.

    Noting that there could have been more publicity to educate drivers about the road changes, he pointed out that there is a "sharp left turn" that needs to be carefully negotiated for those travelling from the ECP onto the MCE.

    Ms Chiang is not too optimistic about the traffic situation on the MCE in the week ahead.

    She said: "Schools will re-open soon and roads will be more congested. Hopefully, it's a teething problem and the situation will improve when people are more familiar."

    If there was a silver lining to yesterday's congestion, Mr Toh said he saved on Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges because by the time he reached one of the gantries, it was after the peak hour.

    However, senior manager Tan Wee Shiong, 40, ended up paying $9.50 in ERP charges yesterday for his trip from Bedok to Lower Delta Road, due to the confusion.