Work on the Stevens and Mount Pleasant MRT stations officially started yesterday, when Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew also revealed an extra addition.
He said an underpass is being built to connect the Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS) with the Stevens MRT station, which will serve as an interchange for the new Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) and the Downtown Line.
The 60m underpass, which is due to open in 2019, will run under the Bukit Timah and Dunearn roads, and end in two entrances just outside the school.
It will be 11m underground at its deepest.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it will build the underpass with a machine which is capable of drilling a rectangular-shaped tunnel.
The box-jack tunnel boring machine will allow the digging to be conducted without affecting work on the surface, explained Mr Henry Foo, one of the directors of the Thomson-East Coast Line.
He added that if the LTA had built the underpass using the conventional "cut-and-cover" method, roads, canals and utilities running on the surface would have to be diverted for excavation works.
"You can say that this new machine will save us about 30 per cent of the manpower," said Mr Foo.
It is the first time such a machine will be used in Singapore. There are also plans to use the machine at the Havelock station on the $24 billion TEL.
Mr Lui, who was guest of honour at the ground-breaking ceremony, assured residents that emphasis will be placed on building the pedestrian link, which will be available ahead of the station's opening.
"This will benefit residents, students and staff of SCGS, who will have a more comfortable and safer alternative to cross the very busy roads," he said.
Both the Stevens and Mount Pleasant stations are expected to be operational by 2021.
They are part of the 31-station TEL that stretches from Woodlands to Bedok.
Construction of the TEL-side of Stevens station will take place along a 200m stretch of Stevens Road.
The road, which is nine-lane at its widest, will be diverted in stages during construction.
Meanwhile, residents and parents are already looking forward to the line's opening, in the hope that it will ease traffic congestion in the area.
"Every morning, we have to wake up earlier to avoid the jam," said fund manager William Tan, 57, who leaves his home near the Botanic Gardens at 6.25am to take his two daughters to SCGS.
"If they took the train with the new line, maybe they could sleep in more."
This article was first published on January 25, 2015.
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