Expected in second half of year, it will link MRT station to 18 Tai Seng retail centre, and is being built by Mapletree
Tai Seng station to get underpass to Paya Lebar hub A view of the construction site from the street. The underpass is part of a land sale requirement set by JTC Corporation when Mapletree won the tender to develop 18 Tai Seng. ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG

Tai Seng MRT station on the Circle Line will soon be linked by an underground walkway to the bustling Paya Lebar industrial and commercial hub on the other side of the road - courtesy of private developer Mapletree.

The station is the only one on the eastern stretch of the line that does not have an underground link to the other side. Currently, those who work in the offices or dine in the area have to cross at a signalised junction or climb an overhead pedestrian bridge. Each route is a distance of at least 500m.

The underpass is part of a land sale requirement set by JTC Corporation when Mapletree won the tender to develop 18 Tai Seng - a mixed-use development directly opposite the MRT station.

A Mapletree spokesman said the linkway will connect Basement 2 of the MRT station and Basement 1 of 18 Tai Seng retail centre. The linkway is being constructed using a pipe-jacking method, which is a micro-tunnelling process, to join the station via a knock-out panel. This is a section of a wall designed to be knocked down.

"Mapletree takes the view that this will enhance pedestrian connectivity and provide an all-weather retail experience for the business and residential community to the Paya Lebar/MacPherson area," she added.

Work started in March 2015 and is expected to be completed in the second half of this year. There will be an escalator and a lift for pedestrians' use. Mapletree would not disclose the cost of the underpass.

18 Tai Seng opened on Feb 21. Tenants include three Michelin-starred eateries - Liao Fan Hawker Chan, Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta and Tim Ho Wan. Harry's, Jalan Kayu Prata Cafe, Bakerzin, FairPrice and Junior Champs are among the other tenants.

The development is part of a sprawling Paya Lebar industrial-commercial hub that includes the BreadTalk IHQ and StarHub.

Harry's director of sales and marketing Karen Chua said: "We are thrilled to know that there will soon be an underground walkway linking 18 Tai Seng and the train station."

FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng said: "Accessibility will be greatly improved. There will be more connectivity for those who live, work and play there."

Customer service executive Ho Wai Keen, 45, who works in the area, said: "Like many people here, I've been waiting for this for a long time. We heard rumours for some time that there would be an underpass. I'm happy that it is finally happening."

Engineer Yuwono Rahman, 43, said the underpass will be very helpful, especially when it rains.

"Right now, we've to walk quite a long way," he said.

MRT underpasses built by the private sector are uncommon here as most are built by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

The LTA said examples built by the private sector include the underpass linking Capitol Singapore to City Hall station, and the underpass linking Square 2 to Novena station.