Nicoll Highway



Nicoll Highway stretches westward from Mountbatten Road across the mouth of Kallang River over Merdeka Bridge down to the city centre, where it joins Connaught Drive and Stamford Road.1 It was built in the 1950s to alleviate frequent traffic jams on the often congested Geylang and Kallang roads during peak hours. In the mid-1950s, this highway with a bridge-link was an important new artery from the city area to the eastern side of Singapore.2 The 759-metre-long highway was named after former Governor John Fearns Nicoll (1952–55).3 On 17 August 1956, Nicoll Highway and its linking Merdeka Bridge were declared open by then Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock.4

History
In the early 1950s, increased traffic flow on Geylang Road, from the densely populated eastern suburbs to the city area and vice versa, created much traffic congestion during peak hours.5 A traffic census in mid-1953 showed a peak flow of 2,500 vehicles per hour past Kallang Gasworks. To ease the traffic bottleneck, a government committee recommended building a highway along the coast, running almost parallel to the old Geylang Road/Kallang Road link.6 The highway was to be built through the runway grounds of the old Kallang Airport, with a bridge-link over Kallang Basin and a continued stretch leading to town on the Beach Road coastal reclamation.7


The whole of Nicoll Highway sits on land reclaimed in stages since the 1920s. For this project, the Kallang Basin section was reclaimed in the mid-1950s.8

Piling works for the highway began in 1954.9 The eastern approach starts at Mountbatten Road and originally ended on Stamford Bridge across Stamford Canal, where Stamford Road meets with Connaught Drive.10 As a result of the construction, the stretch of Beach Road between Stamford Road and Bras Basah Road became a one-way section.11

In 1965, Nicoll Highway was widened from four to seven lanes at an estimated cost of $550,000. The introduction of reversible lanes helped to ease traffic when the flow was distinctly heavy in one direction.12


In August 1992, the flexi-lanes were converted into a permanent dual carriageway of three lanes on each side from Guillemard Road to Bras Basah Road. According to the Public Works Department, the reversible lanes were no longer necessary due to better traffic distribution throughout the day. The bridge structure was subsequently strengthened to enable it to withstand heavier loads, and upgraded to include wider pedestrian walkways on both sides.13

To allow even smoother traffic flow, Nicoll Highway was extended with the construction of the Esplanade Bridge over the mouth of the Singapore River, till it meets Collyer Quay at the Fullerton Road junction. The Esplanade Bridge was opened in 1997.14

Nicoll Highway collapse

On 20 April 2004 at about 3.30 pm, part of the temporary retaining wall of the Mass Rapid Transit system’s Circle Line at Nicoll Highway collapsed. It caused a cave-in and brought the surrounding area and the highway down into it, forming a 30-metre-deep ravine.15 The tragedy left four men dead.16

Nicoll Highway was reopened to traffic on 4 December 2004.17

Recent developments

In April 2017, a new two-lane vehicular underpass was opened at the junction of Nicoll Highway and Sims Way. The direct connection from Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) and Sims Way to Nicoll Highway or Stadium Drive helps to alleviate congestion at the KPE exit and Sims Way when connecting to Nicoll Highway.18



Authors

Vernon Cornelius-Takahama & Heirwin Md Nasir



References
1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 271. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 201. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
2. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 271. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]
3. Goh, S. (2004. April 26). On a trip down highway’s memory lane. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 271. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Singapore. Public Works Department. (1956). Annual report of the Public Works Department. Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., p. 20. (Call no.: RCLOS 354.59570086 SIN-[RFL]); Merdeka Bridge and Nicoll Highway: Opening ceremony by the Chief Minister, the Honourable Mr. Lim Yew Hock on August 17, 1956. (1956). Singapore: Govt. Print. Off. (Call no.: RCLOS 624 MER-[RFL])
5. Roads to ease crush. (1952, June 18). Singapore Standard, p. 3; City aims to make a road wider. (1953, May 12). Singapore Standard, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Merdeka Bridge and Nicoll Highway: Opening ceremony by the Chief Minister, the Honourable Mr. Lim Yew Hock on August 17, 1956. (1956). Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., pp. 3, 10. (Call no.: RCLOS 624 MER-[RFL]); A bridge of size. (1955, January 14). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Merdeka Bridge and Nicoll Highway: Opening ceremony by the Chief Minister, the Honourable Mr. Lim Yew Hock on August 17, 1956. (1956). Singapore: Govt. Print. Off., pp. 3, 4, 6, 10, 34, 41. (Call no.: RCLOS 624 MER-[RFL])
8. Goh, S. (2004. April 26). On a trip down highway’s memory lane. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Goh, S. (2004. April 26). On a trip down highway’s memory lane. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Council’s $11,000,000 plan will ease bottleneck. (1953, July 11). The Straits Times, p. 7; Here it is – Singapore’s Merdeka Bridge. (1956, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Merdeka Bridge opens in 2 weeks’ time. (1956, August 5). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Nicoll Highway being widened. (1965, July 14). The Straits Times, p. 9; Flexi-lanes on Nicoll Highway to go. (1992, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Flexi-lanes on Nicoll Highway to go. (1992, April 28). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Bridge to smoother traffic. (1997, July 31). The New Paper. p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Phoon, A. (2014, April 22). 10 years ago. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Nicoll Highway opens after $3m in repairs. (2004, December 5). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Nicoll Highway opens after $3m in repairs. (2004, December 5). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Land Transport Authority of Singapore. (2017, March 14). New vehicular underpass from Sims Way to Nicoll Highway to open on 2 April 2017 [Press release]. Retrieved 2017, May 29 from Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/apps/news/page.aspx?c=2&id=b9e5ca0d-9470-4c98-bd54-109ffbc7c29e



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Law and government>>Safety administration>>Land transportation
Architecture
Transportation
Transportation--History--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Architectural structure
Singapore--History
Express highways--Singapore
Events>>Historical Periods>>Independence and Nation-Building (1965-)
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore
1965-1970 Nation building
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation
Architecture and Landscape>>Architectural Styles