Marsiling Underpass

Underpasses are rarely found in new towns of Singapore. Probably due to cost, difficulties in construction and drainage issues, the authority prefers to install overhead bridges, traffic lights and zebra crossings that allow pedestrians to cross the roads safely and conveniently.

Underpasses are usually reserved for busy roads or expressways. Most Singaporeans are familiar with the five famous underpasses across East Coast Parkway (ECP) from Marine Parade to East Coast.

Singapore’s first pedestrian underpass was built in 1964 at Connaught Drive, linking to Queen Elizabeth Walk in Esplanade Park.

In Marsiling, however, there is an old underpass across a three-lane Admiralty Road, which is quite unique as the road has little traffic. The length of the underpass is only about 50m long.

It is not sure which year was the underpass constructed. Judging from its condition, it is probably built in the eighties. Marsiling itself is also an old estate, having developed from rubber plantations and wastelands at the early twentieth century to a housing estate in the eighties. Its development as a residential area was even earlier than the Woodlands New Town.

The name Marsiling derived from the Chinese name of Maxiling, where Maxi is the name of a village whom Lim Nee Soon came from. Lim Nee Soon (1879-1936) was a successful Teochew businessman and Chinese pioneer who owned large plots of land in present Yishun (named after him), Sembawang and Marsiling.

One end of the Marsiling Underpass links to Masjid An-Nur Mosque and Marsiling Community Centre, while the other end links to Block 23. In addition to stairs, it also has a gentle slope for cyclists’ usage.

Old underpasses are poorly lit and pose security concern especially at nights when the human traffic is low, which may be another reason why they are not preferred by the authority.

Published: 12 May 2011

Updated: 04 July 2011

36 Responses to Marsiling Underpass

  1. TC lai says:

    Hey, thanks for this. I spent my teen years in Marsiling for slightly more than two decades and practically watched Marsiling Estate and Woodlands New Town form. I stayed in Blk 34 and sometimes used this bridge to get to the other side, which was near a Community Centre. The first CC in Marsiling was in Block 18 (the first unit), now a bicycle shop. It was the only place where we kids hung out to play ping pong and watched community TV. Not to mention, read the newspapers. I think the main reason for not building any of these tunnels any more had to do with visibility and security. We used to worry about drug users and such using these tunnels at night. My sisters used to worry about being raped, etc. So an overhead bridge is always better. 🙂 By the way, I write a blog about growing up in the backlanes of Geylang. I think your readers will like it too. Geylang of the 70s as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Cheers and many thanks for these pics. 🙂

  2. TC Lai says:

    Hi, Did you get my earlier comment? There seemed to be some technical difficulty.

  3. Nicole says:

    Hi, I used to stay in Block 33 (grandpa), Block 4A(rental house), Block 22(grandma) and Block 28(rental house). I would say that I seriously know all the linkage and pathways that are available in Marsiling. And to what the previous commentor mentioned about the first CC, I attended my first kindergarden in that Block 18!! That was in year 1991. I remembered we always had this morning execrise playing hola hoop outside the CC (the semi circle seats are still there). I love Marsiling and with regards to the underpass, it was in around 1995 where my mum signed me up for this art class in the cc and during that time, i was staying in block 33, i would have to cut across HDB flats and then to the underpass so as to get to the cc, it does always gives me that eerie feeling whenever i walk alone in that underpass. Come to think of it, the marsiling underpass is part of the history of this Marsiling estate.

    • Hi Nicole, thanks for your input..
      Marine Parade underpasses gave me creeps too, during my childhood, being secluded and poorly lit..

    • Roy says:

      I was in the Kindergarten in block 18 too. I was there in 1979-1980. Now that makes me feel very old. I used to stay at Blk 15 Marsiling Lane where there was a big field and playground. The only entertainment (shopping and movie) was located at the woodlands central. To get there, we would either walk pass the underpass or even used it to get across to the overhead bridge that link to the central. It was full of people in those days. Thanks for the photo. It really bring back memories.

    • violoncelle says:

      I was in the kindergarden at Block 18 too ! I was there from 1997-98. I was their last batch of students. Kind of sad that the kindergarden has to go as i really love this place. Plenty of space for us to run about indoor and the teachers are very nice too. I still remember our uniform (red pink white checkered one-piece sleeveless dress for girls, white shirt and checkered bottom for boys). I am staying in marsiling since i was born. Although this place is not very near to any Mrt stations but i love the simple and carefree life in Marsiling.

  4. KS Lee says:

    I used to live in drive BLK 26 since I was born there till 1999, it definately brings back memories!!

  5. Fareed Fiasco says:

    My auntie blk 22.. still remember the musky urine smell in the underpass everytime when my mum bring me visit my auntie back in the 80s..

  6. anyone encounter any paranormal experiences can let me know it.

    • Irfan says:

      I was in the marsiling community center (1 block away from the underpass), at around 10:30pm , i was just looking outside the window at level 2 when (I THINK) i saw someone in white cloths waving at me. It didn’t stop till 12am

  7. Caleb says:

    I used to live in Blk 6 until we shifted in 2006. I can still remember the time way before the Woodlands Bus interchange is build, the bus interchange was located close to block 19. Used to take bus from there with my parents to travel to town. Thanks for bringing back the fond memories 🙂

  8. snailmeat says:

    I attended the People’s Association Kindergarten at the Community Centre next to the mosque from 84-85, and walking through this underpass was a daily affair. Thanks for the photos, looking at them triggers this memory of it’s distinct dank smell with hints of pee…

  9. singapour says:

    snailmeat. me too, attended PA kindergarden… got to walk this underpass to get there, yah that urine smell!!!

  10. othman says:

    This underground was build around 1974. Earlier residents of Block 1,2,3 4 and 5 used to walk all the way to Woodlands Checkpoint to take public transport. When rainy day, prepared for muddy and meandering walkway passing thru this location. During this construction I never miss to look the construction in progress. When it ready I used to yeilling in side the tunnel enjoying the echo. There was a spring nearby mosque location, used to cleaning up feet when it rains. Initially residents used to cross this area to go for market at Lorong Marsiling. Later it relocated at Blk 4 carpark. What a bad smell experience? Few years later Marsiling Market was ready. Every evening for nothing it a must to walk around the shops and stop over at Community Centre to watch TV shows at the corner which now occupied by bicycle shop and hardware shops. The only shops until today is Central Electronics facing bus terminal. Bus services no. 169, 180 and 182 nicely parked in circular parking area. Bus no. 208 service parked along Blk 1 was dissapeared once this terminal was ready.

  11. othman says:

    Do you believe, there was a padi field in Singapore. Only residents of Kg. Sungei Cina know that.
    The location roughly now at the junction of Riverside Road and Admiralty Road. A nice rest place for me and my brothers after selling “kueh”. A well known Boyanese elderly lady named Nek Umi own the padi field. I stayed at Lorong Marsiling. Ever morning 6.30am we made a route to Kg. Hock Choon, Malaysian Navy Barrack at Marsiling Avenue, U-turn to Kg. Hock Choon, Lorong Marsiling pass thru Open Air Cinema, MELLOW then Kg. Sungei Cina and took a break at the Padi Field. Open Air Cinema – MELLOW was located beside Woodlands Check. The last movie enjoyed was “The Ten Commandment”. Children ticket was 10 cent, aldult 40 cents. Do you belive it?. Weekend for sure Hindi Movie. Big cinema signboard at the entrance of Lorong Marsiling will never missed. A smoky environment cinema if your seat at the back row.

    • Mikey says:

      Encik, remember the Woodlands Garden? there is another underpass from Hawker Centre to this Woodlands Garden…. If I remember correctly, rumours said got Ah Qua soliciting for customers, but then if its true, this Ah Qua shld be old by now…

  12. hai i’m Matura..I used to live in Marsiling Drive blk 30 (grandparents house) during in the 80s till 1990..after that i move back to live with my parents..well during my primary school day i frequently used that underpassed because it easy short cut going to my school..yeah honestly that underpass always there’s stinky urined smell..but i couldn’t be bother bout it.. when u feature bout that marsiling underpass its bring back the old memories of my childhood day in the 80s..anyway my uncle still live there at blk 30..

  13. nicrome says:

    do a feature on the blue mosque here in the background here!

  14. sue says:

    This underpass would probably be built in the early to mid 70’s. We use to run across as fast as our little legs could carry us so as not to smell the stench or meet any undesirable hanging down there to get to blk 25 (still have family living there) …oooh the good old days 🙂

  15. hell4 says:

    how do i get to this underpass ???

  16. Yaz says:

    Nice article. But, do u have any idea why there is no Blk 14 Marsiling Lane? Even the new bto blocks don’t bear that number. Though I was told of the history from a friend, I would like to know more.

  17. Anyone still remember the old Marsiling bus terminal and market?

    (Photo Credit: Khamis Ali)

    • Francis says:

      Yes! I took buses to school every morning from 1978. They had a really chaotic system in which you had not idea which bus would be leaving. We would stay in that little station and all eyes on some plates displayed outside the small office. The controller would then put a bus plate number under the bus service number and everyone would start dashing for that bus without doors. Sometimes they changed their mind without informing the already onboard passengers and left us standing and waiting for 30 minutes. Crazy.

    • Francis says:

      I think the bus services were 180, 181, 182, 169, 178.

    • Fizzy says:

      Thanks for sharing this. Lived in Marsiling from the early 2000s. I recall a taxi driver sharing there used to be an interchange at the hawker/market in Marsiling. This photo gave me a good idea of how it looked like. I stayed at block 202 and have a good view of it from my block and never knew what the interchange looked like.

  18. Michael says:

    Yes I am still remember

  19. Lived in Marsiling from 1980 till 1993. Had my kindergarten education at PAP Kindergarten at the void deck of Blk 6. Always used the underpass to get to community centre’s reading room, running so as to reduce inhaling the urine stench! Haha!

    Thanks for the memory!

  20. Francis says:

    The underpass brings back lots of memories, mostly terrifying. I lived in Block 22 from 1978 to 1990s. It was there before that, if I remembered correctly. I was about 12, and I can still remember the echoes of the foot steps and whispering. The tunnel was filled with filthy urine smell and sometimes people just took a dump there. The worst part was sometimes when i was at the tunnel
    at 6 am going to school, and realized the lights had been sabotaged. Someone pulled out the cables, and it was pitch dark. I had to decide whether to take a risk and dash across, or just return to the surface and climb over the road barricades. I had heard stories of molestation and other crimes. Even when I was there again in my 30s I crossed it with hesitation and fear.

  21. Fathiz says:

    Why can’t LTA build an overhead bridge which is much more safer than the underpass which does not feel safe? Not much people use underpass. Especially for children, underpass is not safe.

  22. Lim Jia Ting says:

    it is the underpass I am using! Thank you so much!

  23. Shaik Mohamed says:

    Yes I think the underpass was constructed around 1974/1975. I got my flat at Blk.31 Marsiling Drive around that time. The An Nur mosque was also built around that time. Woodlands was a new estate then. No BKE use to take “pirate taxis” then travelled along the old Woodlands Road, so time consuming.

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