Mon, Sep 12, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Dark traffic days coming for Xinyi area

CERTAIN GRIDLOCK The construction of the Xinyi MRT line, which begins Thursday, will bring nerve-fraying congestion to an already crowded neighborhood, officials say

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei's Xinyi District (信義區) already has some of the area's heaviest traffic due to attractions such as the World Trade Center, Taipei 101 and nearby malls. But it's about to get a lot worse. With the construction of the MRT's Xinyi Line beginning Thursday, the city government has warned citizens they should be prepare for a minimum six-year-long "dark age of traffic" in areas near the line.

The construction of the Xinyi line, which is expected to be complete in 2011, is expected to greatly worsen traffic congestion at surrounding intersections, and especially in the already-crowded Xinyi District.

The line will include seven stops at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Dongmen area, Daan Forest Park, Daan Road, Anhe road, Taipei World Trade Center and the Hangshan area.

During the construction period, the lanes on Xinyi Road will be narrowed from seven meters to five meters, and a construction fence will be set up between Jinshan S Road and Zhongchi Road. The transportation department called on the public to take advantage of public transportation and avoid driving in the area as much as possible.

Officials said they will deploy additional traffic police to help control traffic, and there will be alterations to Xinyi Road, Hangchou S Road, Xinsheng S road and the intersection of Keelung Road and Zhongde road.

Drivers can take Renai Road, Heping E Road, Zhongshan S road or Dunhua S Road to avoid traffic congestion on Xinyi Road. But serious traffic jams will be the norm in the Xinyi District for the next several years, officials said.

In addition to the Xinyi Line, construction on the Xinzhuang and Neihu lines are also causing headaches for drivers. Areas near the Xinzhuang line construction descended into a "dark age of traffic" -- especially along Chong-cheng Road -- since the project began in 2001. While many hoped the traffic nightmare would end when the project was due to be completed in 2009, transportation department officials said that the dispute over whether to keep the Happy Life Leprosy Hospital will very likely push back that timetable.

Taipei County officials plan to demolish the 70-year-old hospital community built under Japanese colonial rule to make room for Xinzhuang Line.

However, patients and human-rights advocates are refusing to give up the hospital.

According to the county government, changing the route of the line in order to preserve the hospital would cost more than NT$2 billion (US$61 million) and delay the project's completion by more than three years.

The Xinzhuang Line and Xinyi Lines will cross at the Dongmen station, and so that area is expected to get even worse when construction begins this week on the Xinyi Line.

While maddening gridlock can therefore be expected in many areas of the city for the next several years, motorists are nonetheless urged to report traffic problems through the toll-free number 0800-888-233.

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