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Highways to reopen before Chinese New Year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday promised that the Suhua Highway and the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass, both of which are undergoing construction work, will reopen before Chinese New Year.

At a legislative interpellation session, lawmakers questioned officials from the transportation bureau over the traffic issues of the two highways concerning the Chinese New Year holiday.

Legislators complained that after passing the freeway tollbooth in Yangmei, drivers need to change over five lanes in the span of only 870 meters before reaching the overpass, which they called the “intersection of death.”

Lu Jie-pin (呂介斌), a representative from the ministry's Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau, said that 870 meters was enough to change five lanes, and encouraged drivers to change lanes at a steady pace instead of cutting into inner lanes immediately.

Nevertheless, MOTC Minister Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) promised to put up clearer road signs and highway markings for the safety of drivers before the reopening.

The Wugu-Yangmei Overpass is a partial section of National Freeway No. 1 that connects Wugu District in New Taipei City to Yangmei City in Taoyuan County. The construction of the overpass began in 2009, with an estimated cost of NT$88.2 billion. It was opened to limited vehicles in mid-December.

Mao added that the Suhua Highway will be ready to launch this afternoon, for the sake of New Year travelers.

“We will only allow medium-sized vehicles to pass through,” he said. “Afterward we will close the roads for further construction so that we can ensure it will fully reopen before Chinese New Year.”

According to the Executive Yuan, 50 meters of the Suhua Highway roadbed was washed away on Dec. 14 following days of constant rain. The premier ordered the road's immediate repair and restoration to minimize the impact on traffic in Eastern Taiwan after the incident.

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