Malaysia-Singapore Second Link

by Tin Seng, Lim

The Malaysia-Singapore Second Link is a 1.9 kilometre dual-three lane bridge that connects Tuas in northwest Singapore to Tanjung Kupang in Gelang Patah located in southwest Johor. Officially opened on 18 April 1998, it is the second bridge across the Straits of Johor that links Singapore and Malaysia, the first being the Woodlands Causeway.

Background

Before the opening of the Second Link, the Woodlands Causeway was the only crossing linking Singapore and Malaysia. Officially opened in June 1924, the Causeway became increasingly congested during the post-independence years due to growing cross-strait traffic.1 Although it was widened in 1976 from a four- to six-lane carriageway, commuters and motorists continued to face congestion, especially during peak hours.2

To address the problem, Singapore and Malaysia agreed in 1980 to consider a second crossing.3 However, it was not until 1994 that both sides signed the official agreement to build it.4 The delay was caused by many factors such as the deliberation over its location and the type of crossing. In the end, it was decided that the new crossing would be located at its present site. Further, it would take the form of a bridge rather than a causeway. This is to allow small watercraft to ply the western half of the Straits of Johor.5

Second Link Agreement
The 1994 agreement to design, build and maintain the Second Link was signed on 22 March 1994 in Kuala Lumpur by Lim Hng Kiang (then Singapore’s Acting Minister for National Development), and Datuk Leo Moggie (then Malaysia’s Minister for Works).6 Under the terms of the agreement, each country was to undertake and finance its own portion of the bridge. This included hiring its own consultants to design its side of the bridge and contractors to carry out the construction work. As about 1.7 km of the proposed bridge would be in Malaysian waters, Malaysia would build the bulk of it. Singapore, on the other hand, would cover the remaining portion in its waters, which was about 170 m.7

Design

The Second Link is a high-level box-girder bridge with a dual three-lane carriageway that can handle a daily capacity of up to 200,000 vehicles.8 Weighing nearly 23,000 tonnes, the span of the bridge is supported by 26 piers, 23 of which are in Malaysian waters.9 There are also three navigational channels beneath the bridge for boats to pass through, two of which are in Malaysian waters. The first Malaysian channel, 75 m wide and 25 m high, is for bigger vessels, while the second channel, 50 m wide and 9 m high, is for smaller ones. The last channel, 75 m wide and 12 m high, is in Singapore waters.10


The Malaysian end of the crossing leads to the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex, which is the Malaysian immigration and quarantine centre. Thereafter, it connects to the North-South Highway and Johor Bahru via the 35-kilometre Second Link Expressway.11 On the Singapore side, the bridge is connected to Tuas Checkpoint and then the Ayer Rajah Expressway.12

Construction
Construction of the Malaysian side of the Second Link began in mid-199413 and was carried out in two phases. The first entailed the creation of two islands for the main piers of the bridge, while the second involved the construction of the main span.14 Malaysia’s Second Link project also included the construction of an immigration complex, and the development of an 11,000-hectare township in Gelang Patah, and the building of the Second Link Expressway.15

As for the Singapore side, construction of the Second Link started with the reclamation of about 20 ha of land off Tuas.16 The reclaimed land would house Singapore’s end of the Second Link and Tuas Checkpoint. Designed by consultants from the Public Works Department, construction of the two-level road system immigration complex started around May 1995, when reclamation was near completion.17 While the complex was being built, Singapore also commenced work on its portion of the Second Link.18

To build the three piers to support the main bridge on the Singapore side, offshore piles encased in steel casings had to be built first to hold up the piers. Further, checks on the site for each pile had to be conducted to detect cavities that would otherwise compromise the foundation. These checks were done by boring into the seabed.19 It was estimated that about 80 concrete segments, 45,000 cu m of concrete and 8,550 tonnes of steel were used to build the Singapore segment of the bridge.20

In July 1997, the construction of Second Link reached a critical milestone when the last slab of concrete was placed to connect both sides of the bridge.21 To mark the occasion, a topping-out ceremony was held on 31 July 1997. It was officiated by Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lim Hng Kiang and Malaysia’s Minister for Works S. Sammy Vellu.22 Thereafter, works on the final phase of the bridge, which involved completing the immigration complexes and installing railings, street lighting, road dividers and signposts, continued until it was opened to traffic on 2 January 1998.23

Cost
Singapore spent S$620 million on the Second Link project. The bulk of it, S$485 million, went into building the Tuas Checkpoint. The rest was spent on reclaiming the site for the checkpoint and constructing Singapore’s portion of the bridge, which cost S$84 million and S$51 million respectively.24 As for Malaysia, it spent some S$358 million on the project. More than half of it, about S$200 million, was spent on building the immigration complex, while the remaining was used for the construction of its portion of the bridge.25

Opening

The Second Link was opened to traffic at 10 am on 2 January 1998. Minutes after the barrier to the Tuas Checkpoint was removed, a queue comprising cars, motorcycles and heavy vehicles converged on the checkpoint causing a jam, which fizzled out about an hour later. On the Malaysian side, there were also congestions at different times of the day.26 The congestion on both sides was caused by curious motorists who wanted to experience driving across the new bridge, and heavy vehicles using the Second Link as an alternative to transport goods to Singapore.27

Following the January opening, a ceremony was held on 18 April 1998 to mark the official opening of the bridge. The event was attended by Goh Chok Tong (then Prime Minister of Singapore) and Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (then Prime Minister of Malaysia). In their addresses, both leaders welcomed the completion of the bridge, and saw it as a symbol of cooperation and deep bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore.28

Toll charges

Singapore and Malaysia began collecting tolls from motorists using the Second Link on 17 March 1998.29 Tolls were levied on incoming and outgoing vehicles at Singapore’s Tuas Checkpoint and Malaysia’s Tanjung Kupang Toll Plaza, and the amount motorists would pay depends on the type of vehicle used.30

When they were first imposed, toll charges at the Second Link were considerably higher than those payable at Singapore’s Woodlands Causeway. For instance, heavy vehicles entering and leaving Singapore had to pay a toll of S$12 each way. At Woodlands Causeway, the rate was S$1.50 and applied to outbound traffic only. Similarly, cars, vans and small lorries were charged only S$1 for using the Causeway. But at the Second Link, the rate for cars was S$2.50 each way, while that for vans and small lorries was S$6.31 After entering Malaysia, motorists had to pay additional charges at the Tanjung Kupang Toll Plaza for using the Second Link Highway, the only road leading away from the bridge.32

The high toll charges caused the Second Link to be underutilised.33 To encourage more motorists to use the link, both sides have taken various measures over the years to reduce the charges. For instance, in 2010, both sides agreed to reduce the charges by 30 percent.34 This was followed by the implementation of off-peak toll rates in 2018 and the removal of toll charges for motorcycles in 2019.35



Author

Lim Tin Seng



References

1. Fernandez, W. (1998, April 19). Regional crisis draws S’pore, Malaysia closerThe Straits Times, pp. 1, 28; Solving those Causeway traffic jams. (1972, January 26). New Nation, p. 6; S’pore offers to share Causeway project cost. (1972, January 25). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Alphonso, G., et al. (Eds.). (2011). The Causeway. Kuala Lumpur: National Archives of Malaysia/Singapore: National Archives of Singapore, pp. 138, 142–143. (Call no.: RSING 388.132095957 CAU); Taking shape – the new S’pore-Johore Causeway. (1976, May 23). The Straits Times, p. 7; ‘Ease appalling Causeway jams’. (1980, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Plan for second causeway or bridge over straits. (1980, May 14). The Straits Times, p. 1; Johore gears up for the 2nd causeway. (1980, December 17). The Straits Times, p. 14; Soh, F., & Lee, P. (1980, May 14). Towards even closer ties. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Mahathir: Survey on to look for suitable link spot. (1989, August 19). The Straits Times, p. 3; Second causeway at Tuas?. (1990, March 16). The Business Times, p. 1; Second link likely to be bridge. (1988, June 10). The Straits Times, p. 16; KL minister confirms bridge link. (1988, June 11). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.­
7. 2nd Link a ‘harmonious fusion’. (1995, July 8). The New Paper, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Fernandez, W. (1998, February 11). Built for 200,000 vehicles. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Here’s Tuas, the link’s on track. (1996, December 9). The New Paper, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1; 2nd Link a ‘harmonious fusion’. (1995, July 8). The New Paper, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Andrianie, S. (1997, December 31). Customs booths will not be fully manned on FridayThe Straits Times, p. 17; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Andrianie, S. (1997, December 31). Customs booths will not be fully manned on FridayThe Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Land Transport Authority. (2013, August 23). Ayer Rajah Expressway. Retrieved 2019, October 26 from Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltaweb/en/roads-and-motoring/projects/ayer-rajah-expressway-aye.html
13. Work on second link 'to start in middle of the year'.  (1990, March 28). The Straits Times, p. 18; Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1; Ground-breaking for second causeway. (1995, January 10). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Minister wants more lanes on second link to S’pore. (1995, September 29). The Straits Times, p. 25; First of a new link. (1996, January 17). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (1994, March 23). Second link accord signed. The Straits Times, p. 1. Origins of the Crossing. (1995, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Leong, C.K. (1995, February 5). Double-deck checkpoint for Tuas. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Leong, C.K. (1995, February 5). Double-deck checkpoint for Tuas. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1996, May 15). Speech by Mr Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Home Affairs, at the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony for Tuas Checkpoint on Wednesday. 15 May 1996 at 10:30am [Press release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
18. Here’s Tuas, the link’s on track. (1996, December 9). The New Paper, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Nathan, D. (1996, March 15). Work on second link going smoothly. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Linked – and a July 31 date for PM, Mahathir. (1997, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Linked – and a July 31 date for PM, Mahathir. (1997, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Abdul Hadhi. (1997, August 1). Tuas second link toll charges will be reasonable: Hng Kiang. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Linked – and a July 31 date for PM, Mahathir. (1997, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 3; Leong, C.T. (1998, January 3). Second Link at Tuas opens without fanfare. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Tuas complex added to the cost. (1997, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tuas complex added to the cost. (1997, December 24). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Leong, C.T. (1998, January 3). Second Link at Tuas opens without fanfare. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Lo, E., & Ho, D. (1998, January 3). Motorists check out new link. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. Fernandez, W. (1998, April 19). Regional crisis draws S’pore, Malaysia closerThe Straits Times, pp. 1, 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Fernandez, W. (1998, March 26). Tolls hit Second LinkThe Straits Times, p. 31; Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. Second Link and Causeway tolls start today. (1998, March 17). The Straits Times, p. 2; S’pore’s Second Link tolls same as KL’s. (1998, March 12). The Straits Times, p. 3; Higher Causeway, Second Link tolls. (2002, February 22). Today, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Second Link toll for big lorries set at $12 each way. (1998, March 12). The Business Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
32. Fernandez, W. (1998, March 6). Highway toll fees will jack up total Second Link charges. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
33. Fernandez, W. (1998, February 11). Built for 200,000 vehicles. The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
34. S’pore to cut Second Link’s vehicle toll charges by 30%. (2010, June 29). The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
35. Land Transport Authority. (2018, April 3). Off-peak toll charges by S’pore at Second Link on April 1. Retrieved 2020, February 3 from TODAY website: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-implements-reduced-peak-toll-charges-second-link-april-1; Land Transport Authority. (2019, January 21). Singapore to Match Malaysia Toll Removal for Motorcycles at Second Link from 21 January 2019 [Press release]. Retrieved 2020, February 3 from Land Transport Authority website: https://www.lta.gov.sg/content/ltagov/en/newsroom/2019/1/2/singapore-to-match-malaysia-toll-removal-for-motorcycles-at-second-link-from-21-january-2019.html



The information in this article is valid as at February 2020 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
Science and technology>>Engineering>>Transportation engineering
Architecture
Transportation
Architecture and Landscape>>Architectural Styles
Causeways--Singapore
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation