Work has begun on converting a venue for the original Singapore grand prix to cater to more leisurely pursuits
After delay, work starts to redevelop part of Old Upper Thomson Road A 3km stretch of Old Upper Thomson Road is being converted into a one-way street to accommodate a new park connector. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

The National Parks Board (NParks) is turning a 3km stretch of Old Upper Thomson Road - a winding two-way road where racing cars roared in the 1960s and early 1970s - into a one-way street to accommodate a new park connector. Still a favourite haunt for driving enthusiasts looking for thrills, the tree-lined serpentine stretch will soon adopt a permanently slower pace.

A park connector on one side will link the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the upcoming Thomson Nature Park. NParks is also looking into the possibility of extending this park connector to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park - along with connections to other parks in the vicinity.

In an update, an NParks spokesman told The Sunday Times the project had been delayed and will be completed only by the end of next year. Originally, work was to have started late last year and slated for completion by early next year. The spokesman said there had been "some delay due to public engagement for this development".

The reduced vehicular lane arising from the project will "provide safer passage for animals crossing between the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and Thomson Nature Park", the spokesman said. "Overall noise and light pollution will be brought down, creating a more conducive environment for creatures residing in the vicinity," she added. NParks would not say how much the project costs.

Retiree Lee Chiu San, 72, who took part in the grand prix five decades ago, said he has fond memories of the road, but now "it's a nice walking area". "You can't drive fast there anymore - there are too many cyclists and monkeys," he added.

Cycling advocate Han Jok Kwang, 63, said it is "heartening to learn this charming and winding road is being made safer both for cyclists and motorists".

But businessman and nature lover Eric Ng, 67, said the project could have been bolder.

"We could have made an entire stretch car-free, and allowed one-lane signalised traffic to Peirce Reservoir from one end," he said.

Mr Ng also said there could have been more information at the worksite. "You know, if you build a condo, you need to put up signs telling people who the builder is and when it will be completed. But here, there's no such information on-site," he noted.