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Tue, Jan 11, 2000 - Page 4 News List

New roads to improve traffic flow

TRANSPORTATION The completion of a number of branch roads and the implementation of regulatory measures will, the MOTC hopes, reduce the congestion that makes Chinese New Year travel such a headache

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Drivers should experience fewer traffic woes on Taiwan's freeways this Chinese New Year holiday, as new extensions to the highway system are scheduled to be completed and special traffic restrictions are to be imposed, Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) officials said yesterday.

"Our goal is to to reduce the travel time between Taipei and Kaohsiung to six hours," said Minister for Transport and Communications Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) at his ministry's year-end news conference yesterday.

Lin also announced a plan to integrate the public transportation system with tourism services in order to reduce travel time for holidaymakers. He said the placing of traffic signs would also be made more systematic.

According to Lin, freeways will be toll-free during specific periods of the four-day New Year holiday, beginning at 6pm on Thursday Feb. 3 and ending at 7pm on Tuesday Feb. 8.

The 74 entrance ramps along the No. 1 Freeway will be controlled by a metering system from 7am to 7pm everyday during the holidays.

Certain off-ramps will be closed from midnight on the 4th until midnight on the 7th.

Occupancy requirements will also be in place from 7am to 12pm on the 4th and 7th and only vehicles carrying at least four passengers will be permitted to use the highways.

The completion of new branch lines before the New Year are expected to ease traffic on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (中山高速公路), which runs parallel to the Second Freeway (第二高速公路).

On the Second Northern Freeway, the completion of the southern stage of the Keelung-Hsichih section (基隆汐止段) is expected by the end of the month. The northern section will not be completed until the middle of March.

On the Southern Second Freeway, four branch lines were completed last year -- the Tainan feeder line in August, the Kaohsiung feeder line in November and the Hsinhua-Kuanmiao (新化關廟段) and Yenchao-Chiuju (燕巢九如段) sections last month. The Kuanmiao-Yenchao section (關廟燕巢段) is expected to be finished by Feb. 2.

Meanwhile, to ease the traffic volume in eastern Taiwan and shorten the travelling time between Taipei and Hualien (花蓮), the Taipei-Hualien Freeway (北花高速公路), which begins in Nankang (南港) and ends in Shoufeng (壽豐), is expected to be finished by the end of 2007. Once completed, it will take only one hour and 50 minutes to travel between Taipei and Hualien.

Both the National Eastern Highway (國道東部公路) and National Southern Cross-island Highway (國道南橫公路) are still in the planning stage. The two will connect with the Taipei-Hualien Freeway and the Second Freeway, making the highway circuit system around the island more complete.

The MOTC is also promoting better integration of the public transportation system to cope with the demands of domestic tourism.

"The goal of the integration project is to reduce the transfer time [between different forms of transportation such as MRT to bus or rail to bus] to under 30 minutes within two years. Hopefully the public will be able to see some results within six months," Lin said.

The ministry has formed a committee to supervise the aviation, bus, railway, tourism, freeway and highway authorities. Prior to the downsizing of the provincial government, the railway and bus administrations were not under the MOTC's authority.

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