With the Lunar New Year holiday about to conclude, the volume of northbound traffic increased dramatically yesterday as people headed home to prepare for the resumption of their normal work schedules tomorrow.
The National Highway Bureau (NHB) said yesterday’s peak traffic volume on the freeways reached 3.1 million, an 84 percent increase from the annual average of 1.7 million, and total traffic volume peaked at 21 million, a 59 percent increase from the annual average of 13 million.
The Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) yesterday saw increased traffic, bottlenecking several roads around the area, the bureau said.
The bureau said that northbound traffic will pick up in the afternoon today, with an estimated high of 3 million cars using the freeways.
The high-occupancy restrictions from 9am to 3pm yesterday helped lower traffic volume, but the volume picked up after the restrictions ended, bureau Director Lee Kang (李綱) said.
Traffic going toward Yilan County, along the Nangang system (南港) to Shihding (石碇), increased after 7am yesterday, with some parts bogged down and crawling at barely 30kph, Lee said.
The Suhua Highway (蘇花公路) also saw dramatic traffic jams yesterday, with some drivers taking 4.5 hours traveling the stretch from Yilan County to Hualien County, with the Heping (和平) to Dongao (東澳) being the most congested.
Meanwhile, New Taipei City’s (新北市) Pingsi District (平溪) began its Sky Lantern Festival (天燈節) yesterday.
To accommodate the crowds celebrating the festival, roads were blocked off from from 9am to midnight yesterday at County Highway 106; the Shuangxikuo exit (雙溪口) of County Highway 106-B; the entrance of the Shihdingbao Tunnel (石碇堡) of County Highway 106-B; Jhuangjing Bridge; Shifen Scenic Area; the front entrance of Pingshuang Tunnel (平雙隧道) and the intersection of Rueiping Road (瑞平公路) and Dingping Road (頂坪公路), the New Taipei City Bureau of Tourism said.
The restrictions also extended to scooters and bicycles and will be in effect on Saturday and Feb. 14, the bureau said.