The Benjamin Sheares Bridge was built as part of the East Coast Parkway Express that connected the Ayer Rajah Expressway at the Shenton Way financial district to Changi Airport in the east. Construction of the viaduct on reclaimed land across what later became Marina Bay started in 1977 and was completed in 1981 by Japanese contractor Sato Kogyo at a cost of $177 million. The over 1.8-kilometre-long pre-stressed concrete structure with 23 spans was built to allow ships to pass underneath it. The bridge was officially opened in September 1981 by then Minister for the Environment Ong Pang Boon and named in honour of Dr. Benjamin Henry Sheares, the second President of Singapore (1971-1981) who had died in office earlier that year. Since 1995, the bridge has featured as part of the route for the combined Sheares Bridge Run and Army Half Marathon organised by the Singapore Armed Forces Recreation Association.