The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has announced the start of a significant expansion project for the Woodlands Checkpoint, beginning in 2025.
This project will increase the checkpoint’s size by fivefold, with the initial phase focusing on extending the Old Woodlands Town Centre and Bukit Timah Expressway. The completion of this phase is expected to progress from 2028 onwards.
The plan includes the demolition and integration of the Old Woodlands Checkpoint with the new extension, which is expected to be fully operational by 2032. This redevelopment is part of a broader 10 to 15-year strategy, involving land acquisition and reclamation, overseen by JTC Corporation.
Despite the extensive nature of the works, ICA said that checkpoint operations will not be disrupted.
Following detailed feasibility and technical studies, the need for land acquisition and reclamation was identified as essential to meet future demands.
An ICA spokesperson shared that the redeveloped checkpoint, inclusive of the current facility, will cover approximately 95 hectares. This is more than double the size of the Marina South precinct. The present checkpoint covers an area of about 19 hectares.
Land reclamation is expected to start in the third quarter of 2024, with completion targeted for 2029. This follows the finalisation of reclamation plans and consideration of feedback from an environmental impact assessment report conducted by JTC. The report suggested measures to mitigate environmental impact, leading ICA to anticipate no major environmental concerns from the redevelopment.
The need for this expansion is driven by the surge in traveller volume at Woodlands Checkpoint, which has returned to pre-Covid-19 levels of approximately 300,000 daily travellers, often increasing during holidays and long weekends. This figure represents a significant increase from the 230,000 daily travellers recorded in 2000. By 2050, the number is projected to reach 400,000.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jackson Tan, commander of Woodlands Checkpoint, highlighted the limitations of the current infrastructure in addressing traffic congestion. The redevelopment aims to reduce the average clearance time from 60 to 15 minutes during peak periods for all vehicle types. This will be achieved through increased automation, such as automated in-car immigration clearance systems, and the establishment of holding areas for vehicles within the checkpoint.
The first phase will feature an extension at the Old Woodlands Town Centre, including 21 cargo lanes and 78 arrival car lanes, significantly improving clearance capacities. Additionally, these car lanes can be converted into 156 motorcycle lanes to manage peak-period traffic efficiently.
To help peak-hour road congestion, a direct route to the Bukit Timah Expressway will be created, along with upgrades to surrounding road networks. To minimise ecological impact, the BKE extension will be aligned with Marsiling Park’s eastern edge. Noise barriers and traffic signage will also be implemented to decrease construction impacts on nearby residential areas.
Local resident and consultant Nicholas Lai expressed concerns about the potential noise and dust from the construction but acknowledged the benefits of easing jams at the checkpoint.
“The expansion is a good initiative, as the jams at the checkpoint and along the Causeway can be inconvenient when travelling to and from Johor Bahru. But 10 to 15 years is a long time to live with construction in the neighbourhood,” he said.
The next phases of the redevelopment will include constructing new clearance facilities on the acquired and reclaimed land and retrofitting the current checkpoint, with further details pending the completion of design studies.
The ICA also clarified that there are no current plans to upgrade the Causeway since it has sufficient capacity. During the 2023 Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim discussed the project, with Mr. Anwar expressing support and agreeing to facilitate land sales required for the redevelopment.
In May 2022, ICA had announced the acquisition of nine Housing Board blocks in Marsiling Crescent and Lane for this project, offering residents comparable benefits to those under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme.
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Image Source: Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA)