Diversion in Orchard underpass causes confusion

A diversion in the busy underpass from Orchard MRT station to the Tang Plaza building is causing confusion with pedestrians.

People use the popular underpass to get from the MRT station to the basement entrance of Tang Plaza.

But construction work by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has resulted in a diversion in the tunnel. Pedestrians trying to reach the train station from the Tang Plaza side have been confused by the closure of a section of the underpass that leads from the basement to the station.

The street-level entrance to the underpass has also been moved from the main entrance of Tang Plaza, across a driveway, to a pedestrian walkway where a bus stop is located.

There is an alternative, much longer route via an underpass that connects Ion Orchard, Wheelock Place, Shaw House and Tang Plaza for pedestrians to get to Tang Plaza from the train station.

LTA has put up bright yellow signs along the new route to direct human traffic, but pedestrians said the signs are not prominent enough, and not displayed in the right places.

When The Straits Times visited the area on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, about one out of four passers-by stopped to ask the security guard stationed outside Tangs' basement entrance for directions.

Secondary school student Sophia Lee, 15, tried to get to Shaw House using the underpass but got lost along the way. She said: "They need to make the signs more obvious - maybe have big neon signs or big arrows stuck on the ground."

Art consultant Kartika Usman, 40, said: "There should be more signs along the way telling you that part of the underpass is closed off. It is too late once you are standing in front of the blocked entrance."

Besides the signs, the contractor has stationed staff at the underpass' new Orchard Road entrance to help direct human and motor traffic.

The construction work, which aims to double the width of the underpass from its original 5m, is slated for completion in the first quarter next year. The $36 million project is being carried out by Australian engineering company McConnell Dowell.

LTA said the street-level diversion is temporary and pedestrians are likely to be able to access the MRT station from the basement of Tang Plaza by the end of next month. A big crowd is expected at the underpass today with the opening of the first Krispy Kreme store in Singapore, located in Tang Plaza's basement.

To prevent overcrowding, there will be signs to request customers to queue on the ground floor, outside the front of Tangs department store. From there, Krispy Kreme staff will escort them in batches to the doughnut shop.


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