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Rebuilt with Chinese donations, bridge hit by Morakot reopens

KAOHSIUNG--A bridge in Southern Taiwan that was destroyed by massive flooding triggered by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009 opened to traffic Saturday after being rebuilt with funds donated by China.

The Huoshan Bridge on the Jiaxian-Shanlin section of the No. 21 provincial highway was one of dozens of bridges and roads in mountainous areas of Kaohsiung that were partially or entirely damaged by the storm, according to the Cabinet-run Morakot Post-Disaster Reconstruction Council.

Knowing that Taiwan needed funds to get the area back on its feet, China's Taiwan Affairs Office and the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) jointly raised funds from Chinese donors to help rebuild the bridge, the council said.

The reconstruction of Huoshan Bridge began in November 2011, with the Taiwan Mazu Fellowship, a religious civic group, commissioned to take charge of the project that was completed at a cost of NT$540 million (US$18.46 million).

Described as an extradosed bridge (which is like a cable-stayed bridge but with a lower tower), Huoshan Bridge now stretches 280 meters.

It was designed based on ideas inspired by the roofs of local temples and the crown of Matsu, the Goddess of the Sea, who is widely worshipped in Taiwan, said Taiwan Mazu Fellowship Honorary Chairman Yen Chin-piao during the inauguration ceremony.

The bridge's opening was also witnessed by Morakot Post-Disaster Reconstruction Council CEO Chern Jenn-chuan, Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Liu Shih-fang, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane and visiting ARATS Vice President Zheng Lizhong.

SEF and ARATS are intermediary bodies founded to handle cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges in the absence of official ties.

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