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Ma praises finish of Wugu-Yangmei overpass

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday praised the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for finishing the Wugu-Yangmei overpass project.

The National Freeway Bureau (NFB) held a ceremony yesterday to celebrate the opening of the Wugu to Zhongli (中壢) section of the Wugu-Yangmei overpass. Ma commended the project for reducing travel times and carbon emissions, as well as noting that the project came in earlier than scheduled and 30-percent below the expected budget.

By completing the Wugu to Zhongli section, the entire Wugu to Yangmei overpass can now be accessed.

According to the National Expressway Engineering Bureau (國工局), the estimated budget for the Wugu-Yangmei overpass project was NT$88.2 billion while actual expenditure came to NT$60.6 billion.

“The overpass will reduce travel times between New Taipei City and the Taoyuan area and remove about 100 tons of carbon emissions annually,” said Ma.

“The MOTC only spent four years and two months from the official ratification of the overpass project to the finish,” Jiang said of the project, which began in 2009. “This is tough to be achieved.”

The MOTC head Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said the construction team overcame many difficulties in building the Wugu-Yangmei overpass.

“The MOTC made sure there were no safety issues before allowing the opening of the overpass,” said Yeh.

Tseng Da-ren (曾大仁), director-general of the NFB, said the overpass may divert around 30 percent of traffic on the ground section of Freeway No. 1, reducing travel time by 20 to 30 minutes for the commute between Taipei and Taoyuan.

The opening of the Zhongli section of the overpass has been postponed four times due to various factors such as weather, staff shortages and repair issues. It was originally scheduled to be opened to traffic before Chinese New Year.

Modernization of Eastern Rail System Cannot Be Delayed: Ma

Ma said yesterday that the modernization of the rail system in the eastern part of Taiwan must be completed by the end of this year in order to help the development of the area.

“The eastern part of Taiwan has been a less-developed area of the country,” Ma said, adding that “speeding up the modernization of the rail system can help make the eastern area a part of Taiwan.”

The overall plan, developed by the Council for Economic Planning and Development, consists of two major projects to improve the 155-kilometer section of the line connecting Hualien and Taitung — replacing diesel-powered trains with electric powered trains and converting single track sections to double track.

When the project is fully completed, the line's 2 hour and 55 minute travel time will be reduced to less than 2 hours. Out of the 30 stations on the line at present, only 11 will remain.

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President Ma Ying-jeou gives a speech at the opening ceremony of the opening of the Wugu to Zhongli (中壢) section of the Wugu-Yangmei overpass in Linkou District, yesterday. Ma praised the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) for finishing the construction earlier than scheduled and at below expected costs.

(CNA)

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