Looking down from the elevations of both my apartment and the roof of the apartment building I have been able to witness the progress of a road building (or rebuilding) project on a multi-lane highway, the Ophir Road, that passes one side of our building.
Charting the progress at ground level has been a twice daily negotiation of ever changing pedestrian routes and traffic light sequences as lanes have been redirected, bus stops moved, footpaths closed and reopened in different places, and construction site trucks backed into and driven out of openings in big fences.
I will say one thing for construction Singapore style: the big fences have openings cut in them so you can see what is going on. I suspect the openings are not so much about accommodating sightseers as ensuring the fences don't turn into paragliders in high winds. Many of the fences are highly decorated (and some of the artwork has featured in earlier posts), many are simply cheap woven polyester tarpaulin material attached to chainmesh fence panels. Most are affixed with signs portraying a carefully bowed (cartoon style) construction worker in a most apologetic posture, expressing regret for any inconvenience caused to road users and pedestrians during the period of disruption.
Refreshing attitude. Very Singaporean.
After 8 weeks of observation, I am still not clear what the objective of the project is. It might involve a new 'flyover' of the Nicholl Highway. The process of digging holes, filling them in, and then digging them again, has all the stuff that old jokes about make-work projects seem to have been based on. The ground our building and this road are sitting on was probably reclaimed from the sea, or at least from tidal mudflats, at some stage in the last 200 years, and if the evidence of the gloop being drilled out of some of the holes is anything to go by, is possibly still subject to a very high water table. I guess they have been drilling-in some sort of piling to support the whole new 'whatever it is they are building'. It, fortunately, has not involved any pile driving, and for that I am grateful. Even the apologetic signs couldn't have compensated for 12 hours a day or pile driving right next door.
They work on Sundays.
Goodness. Even maids and nannies get Sundays off; but not construction workers it seems.
It is quite common to see gangs of construction workers being driven to sites all over the island sitting (on up-turned buckets or rudimentary benches) in the open back of a truck with a sort of sun-shade roof over it. Singapore can sometimes appear to be a strange mix of uber-modernity and things we might expect to see in less well developed countries.
Given the intensity of advertising campaigns designed to get Singaporeans to walk, cycle or take public transport I am surprised at the levels of investment being made in creating superhighways for cars - all over the city. With so many people living in such a concentrated way and nothing in the way of 'hinterland' in this tiny island nation, it seems the perfect place to lead the world in moving away from individual dependence on cars and having instead integrated urban transport. The positive effects on air quality and noise pollution, and saving the space allocated to allowing cars to move around (turning it all into green space and green corridors) would be .... ( I have no superlative. I just can't imagine how idyllic even cities could be if that happened. Perhaps 'radical' is the word I am looking for.)
I read recently a quote attributed to Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.
Bigger roads are simply not the answer to an increasing human demand to be transported.