Mon, Dec 23, 2019 - Page 1 News List

South Link Highway to open today

‘SAFE AND COMFORTABLE’:With the improvement projects completed, Highway No. 9 became the nation’s second-longest highway, as certain parts were bypassed

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A stretch of the widened South Link Highway snakes through part of Taitung County yesterday.

Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

The last stretch of the widened South Link Highway (南迴公路) is to open for traffic today after successive governments spent 15 years planning and completing the project.

An opening ceremony is to be held in Taitung in the morning and drivers can start accessing the highway in the afternoon, said the Directorate-General of Highways, which is in charge of the project.

The South Link Highway, which is part of Highway No. 9, connects Taitung and Pingtung, and has been described as one of the nation’s most beautiful highways, the agency said.

However, natural disasters often triggered landslides and disrupted traffic on the highway, which in 2011 prompted the agency to increase the number of lanes to improve driving safety, it said.

The widened highway would help shorten the travel time between Taitung and Pingtung by 30 minutes, the agency said.

The highway’s northern and central sections opened for traffic on July 1 and Oct. 28 respectively, it said.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said on Facebook that Highway No. 9 used to be the nation’s longest highway, passing through Taipei’s Zhongxiao E Road, Yilan County, the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路), Taitung and Pingtung’s Fangshan Township (枋山).

The highway stretched 474.3km before the improvement project, he said.

However, to improve driving safety, the highway authority bypassed some of the meandering sections on the South Link Highway and Suhua Highway, shortening Highway No. 9 to 453.851km, Lin said.

As of today, Highway No. 1, which also connects Taipei and Pingtung’s Fangshan Township, becomes the nation’s longest highway at 461.081km, he said.

“Despite being the second-longest, the widened South Link Highway would allow motorists to have a safe and comfortable travel experience. The highway authority has also used advanced methods to build through forests and near cliffs, which is an amazing sight,” he said.

Lin also mentioned the directorate’s photographer Wang Fu-sheng (王富生), who has been taking photographs of highway construction projects since 1992.

“Wang is like a dictionary of beautiful scenery on highways and bridges, as he has captured many of them. Once he even spent the night on a beach so that he could take photographs of Jinlun Bridge (金崙大橋) with the Milky Way visible above,” Lin said.

“A moving story should be interpreted by a storyteller. Apart from construction workers, we also need to thank Wang for telling the story of the South Link Highway to the world through the camera lens,” he added.

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