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The Lorong Chuan Overhead Bridge

Some time back, I took a closer look at an unusual overhead bridge along Serangoon Road.

Here’s another one - the Lorong Chuan Overhead Bridge.

At least, that’s what it’s called on Google Maps and on Wikipedia.

However, its name is a misnomer, because it is actually over Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1; the junction with Lorong Chuan is a short walk away. Perhaps it was given that name because it is near Lorong Chuan MRT Station, so people associate the surrounding area with the place name “Lorong Chuan”. Actually, Lorong Chuan is a fairly long road, running from Braddell Road in the south to Serangoon Garden Way in the north.

I would have called it the Mei Hwan Overhead Bridge instead, because it connects the Mei Hwan Drive Playground in the south to Li Hwan Close in the north.

Base picture credit: Google Maps.

Anyway, this overhead bridge is unique because it looks like it belongs to another era.

The overhead bridge resembles an elongated, olive green shipping container, with rows of octagonal windows on both sides. One might mistake it for a temporary structure, or an overhead bridge under construction.

But, it is the finished product - and it has been there for decades.

I am unsure when exactly it was completed. I saw online articles claiming that it was built in 1975. However, I could not find a primary source, be it in the newspaper archives or the National Archives, backing up the claim.

Street directories were not much help either, as overhead bridges appeared in them only between 1984 and 1988.

Since overhead bridges serve roads, I turned to the history of the roads surrounding the overhead bridge. Below is the area in 1970. At the time, Lorong Chuan (blue) was the only major road in the area, running by a steep hill. To its north, on the hill, was Jalan Pacheli (blue), at the southern edge of Serangoon Garden Estate.

Base picture credit: Singapore Land Authority collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

Below is the area in 1976. By then, two private housing estates had been built on either side of Jalan Pacheli - Tai Hwan Garden to the west, and Golden Hill Estate to the east, served by roads such as Tai Hwan Heights and Li Hwan Close (all pink). Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 was still not on the map.

Base picture credit: Singapore Land Authority collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

This Straits Times Forum letter was published on 2 August 1977.

Credit: SPH Media Trust.

It starts with: “Ever since Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 was opened, the traffic at Lorong Chuan has increased tremendously…” This means Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 was completed sometime between 1976 and August 1977, to serve the up-and-coming Ang Mo Kio New Town.

As the road had to be completed first before the overhead bridge, my guess is that the Lorong Chuan Overhead Bridge was completed over Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 sometime after August 1977 - which makes it up to 45 years old.

As Lorong Chuan ran alongside a steep hill, a cutting was made into the hill to construct Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. Hence, the Lorong Chuan Overhead Bridge stands out again because the road it crosses is below the level of the general terrain, while the overhead bridge is around the level of the general terrain.

This is clear when one is right next to the overhead bridge.

This is the approach from the south, the Mei Hwan Drive Playground.

Inside the overhead bridge.

The approach from the north, Li Hwan Close. There are private homes on either side.

As the overhead bridge is needed to connect two private housing estates, my hope is that it will remain untouched for a long time.


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