Scrapping $5bil underground road frees up land, lifts restrictions

Romesh Navaratnarajah30 Aug 2017

Singapore traffic

The cancellation of the 30km Singapore Underground Road System will free up land for other developments.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Tuesday (29 August) that they have scrapped plans to build the 30km Singapore Underground Road System (SURS), freeing up the land originally intended for it, reported TODAYonline.

According to experts, the government’s move will provide landowners and urban planners more flexibility to build lower or higher. It will also cut the cost and inconvenience for developers as they no longer need to consider the underground road’s alignment when planning and building their projects.

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With the restrictions related to SURS now gone, city planners can now allow developments with “higher plot ratio” on areas where this was not previously permitted, said Suntec Real Estate Consultants’ Director of research and consultancy, Colin Tan.

“There are more options to relocate or locate some amenities and developments. If you want to intensify or build higher, then this will allow the planners to lift the plot ratio.”

He believes cancelling the SURS opens up the possibility of developing the northern part of the scrapped road network, namely portions running across Kallang and Balestier Road, the only remaining areas in the central region that are not as dense as the city centre.

If the authorities had proceeded with the $5 billion underground road network, Tan thinks that “about 30 to 40 percent of the built-up areas such as Havelock, Maxwell and Orchard” would have been inconvenienced by the massive project.

Park Byung Joon, urban transport planner at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), said that it was a smart move to scrap SURS as he deems it an outdated idea conceived in the 1980s when the city-state’s MRT network was still small.

“For me, de-safeguarding could have happened earlier. The moment they have planned for more MRT lines, then it becomes quite clear that we do not need to have those car roads tunnelling through underground.”

Furthermore, ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak noted that building three levels underground is more expensive than constructing above ground by three-fold.

“You will need more foundation work, more robust engineering work to keep the walls from collapsing on the sides as there is more pressure there,” he added.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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