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Section of Suhua Highway has limited opening hours

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Traffic control was resumed yesterday on the Suao-Dongao section of the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路) in Eastern Taiwan, with the section open to traffic for only four hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., according to the Directorate General of Highways (DGH).

DGH officials said that traffic control is enforced to facilitate a second round of road repair operations near the 115.8-km mark, where a serious collapse — 45-meters long and 80-meters deep — was caused by heavy rainfall in mid-December.

The DGH managed to complete the first round of repairs before the four-day New Year's holiday started on Dec. 29 to allow one-way traffic for small cars.

Stating at noon yesterday, the DGH blocked the Suao-Dongao section of the Suhua Highway connecting Suao in the northeastern county of Yilan and the eastern city of Hualien to develop new lanes in the mountainous section of the road.

Starting today, one-way traffic will be allowed for small cars for four hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., DGH officials said.

The officials expected full traffic to be resumed on the said road section before the Chinese New Year holidays begin on Feb. 9.

It's an offseason for the operation of private guest houses from now to Chinese New Year's eve, and traffic controls will not significantly affect their business. Nevertheless, operators complained that some customers have canceled their reservations for rooms over the Chinese New Year holiday period on the grounds that they don't want to drive on a “dangerous highway.”

“The Suhua Highway is really a dangerous highway even after it resumes full traffic before the Lunar New Year holiday,” said Liu Ling-ling, chairwoman of the Hualien Association of Guest Houses.

Liu said some customers have decided to cancel their reservations for guest houses during the Chinese New Year holiday mainly because the road repairs might be postponed by unexpected heavy rainfall and it's also highly difficult to buy train tickets for the eastern railway.

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