The runway of Lim Chu Kang Road
Lim Chu Kang Road is a trunk road that has been serving the remote northwest of Singapore Island since 1931. Presently, it can be divided into two parts according to width. The southern stretch is a three-lane dual carriageway south of the junction with Ama Keng Road, while the northern stretch is a single-lane dual carriageway north of the junction.
Today, we explored the former, which runs for around 3.3km from the junction with Old Choa Chu Kang Road to Ama Keng Road.
The junction with Old Choa Chu Kang Road.
This 3.3km stretch also serves as an alternate runway for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF). Since 1986, the RSAF has been practising launch and recovery operations on the alternate runway. The last exercise, Exercise Torrent, took place in November 2016.
It is clear that this stretch of road can be used as a runway - the road is straight and wide, there is plenty of open space, and there are only bushes, no trees. It is easy to imagine planes taking off and landing on this strip.
This alternate runway was created in the 1980s. Originally, all of Lim Chu Kang Road was a single-lane dual carriageway, and the stretch from Choa Chu Kang Road (now Old Choa Chu Kang Road) to Ama Keng Road was a reverse-C shape (see the 1978 street directory map below).
By 1984 (below), a straighter channel had been laid down, resulting in the expungement of a number of tracks, such as Lorong Pasak and Lorong Kikir. The original Lim Chu Kang Road was retained as Old Lim Chu Kang Road.
By 1991 (below), the land west of the new Lim Chu Kang Road was cleared for agriculture. Tracks such as Lorong Lihat, Lorong Ensel, and Lorong Pintu were expunged for Murai Farmway and its farms.
Lim Chu Kang Veterinary Station moved out sometime before 2009. Today, Old Lim Chu Kang Road is surrounded by military camps: Tengah Airbase, Lim Chu Kang Camp I, and Murai Camp.
The bus stops along this stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road are of the old, classic sort, hardly found anywhere else.
Opposite Lim Chu Kang Camp I.
The junction with Old Lim Chu Kang Road.
Always excited to see the remains of an old, defunct road - this time, it’s traces of Lorong Tukol.
Jalan Murai has survived, and now serves the Murai Urban Training Facility.
A bend lies ahead - and beyond, Lim Chu Kang Road narrows to a single-lane dual carriageway.
This stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road, and Old Lim Chu Kang Road, Jalan Murai, and Murai Farmway, all look to be on borrowed time - Tengah Airbase will be expanded westward in the next few years, changing the landscape of the area.
Things have already been set in motion. Around 80,000 Chinese and Muslim graves in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex have been exhumed; the complex will see its size shrink by 100 hectares, or a third. The six farms of Murai Farmway have moved out. And roadworks to construct a new road to replace the runway stretch of Lim Chu Kang Road have already begun; the new road will be completed in 2025 (below).
One thing’s for sure - this area will see plenty of change in the next few years.