By James Wong

Today I drove through the new Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), which reminded me very much of the freeways in the United States due to its massive lane count and big signs. I’ll have to hand it to the engineers; it feels like a very well-planned and built road and I have no complains about its smoothness or safety.

What I’m not so sanguine about is the downgrading of one of the most beautiful expressways in Singapore, the Benjamin Sheares part of the East Coast Parkway (ECP). Although it will still be around as a normal trunk road, it seems inevitable that the bridge would be, in the long term, be torn down to make way for more useful land in the CBD.

It was always quite a sight to climb the bridge from either the east or west,  but with the new Marina Bay Sands (MBS) structure the best view has to be the descent from the top of the flyover coming from the east. You get a stunning view of the city skyline, which looks especially beautiful at night time. I have always felt we never quite matched up to Hong Kong in terms of urban lighting and drama, but in the last 5 years we have did a very good job of creating a unique night setting. It was also a great test bed for cars, with some bumps that can throw out cars with poorly-tuned suspension setups and an incline that will necessitate a downshift (or two or three for slower cars). Sure, the speed camera just before the Ford Road exit was a nuisance, but that just made the climb up from the east that bit more exciting with a gradual increase in speed up slope.

This evening I entered the soulless MCE and just went through a lot of underground tunnels. Somehow it just doesn’t feel as good anymore, and the commute actually feels longer with no view to soak in. I’ll be missing the drive across the bridge, which is now shrouded in darkness. If they will tear it down I’ll need a couple of drives across it with some photos before it goes!

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