Mon, May 02, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Peitou residents battle city over cable car plan

BAD IDEA Environmentalists, anti-cable-car groups and residents of Peitou once again voiced their opposition to the city's latest efforts to build a cable car system

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Government's latest bid to build a cable car system in the Peitou District has sparked an uproar from local residents and environmentalists, who have been fighting against the project for years.

Besides environmental factors, the excessive width of the proposed system, which is based on Chinese regulations, has stirred new concerns from anti-cable-car groups and city councilors. The width, residents say, would take up too much of the road.

"Instead of adopting more strict Taiwanese criteria, the city government wants to use Chinese safety standards in the construction of cableways," said Chen Huei-tsyr (陳慧慈), former chairman of the Peitou Association. "The decision to narrow the width of the route will compromise the system's safety."

The width of the proposed cable car route, which would run between Chinshui Park in Peitou and Yangmingshan National Park, is 11m.

The width conforms to the overhead cableway regulations in China, which stipulate the width of a cable car line between 10.9m and 11.9m. The overhead cableways regulations in Taiwan stipulate that the width of a cable car route must be no less than 15m and no more than 16m.

"The safety distance between a cable car and its sideway is made shorter, from 4m to 1.5m. Adding to the ecologically fragile condition of the area, the design will effect the stability of the cable car and pose a danger to tourists," said Chen, who is also a civil engineering professor at National Central University.

Responding to that criticism, commissioner for the city government's Bureau of Public Works William Chen (陳威仁) said that Taiwan's regulations do not specify the width of mono-line cable car routes.

"We adopted regulations made by the European Overhead Cableways Association, not China. It just so happens that China also abides by the same regulations," the commissioner said.

Chuang Wu-hsiung (莊武雄), director of the New Construction Department (新建工程處) under the city's Bureau of Public Works (工務局) indicated that the design of the system has included careful calculations of all safe distances, and therefore the concern that the width is unsafe is misplaced.

Opponents said that the city government failed to provide solid proof of the safety it claimed would be included in the construction plan.

"The cable car system will be running in a crowded area, which poses a greater danger to both local residents and tourists than in other, more spacious places," said DPP City Councilor Lan Shih-tsung (藍世聰). "If the city government insists on building a cable car in the district, at least it should adopt Taiwanese regulations, which are supposed to be the strictest and safest in the world."

In addition, Yang Kuoh-cheng (楊國禎), an ecology professor at Providence University in the US, accused the city government of trying to avoid environmental impact research by narrowing the width of cable car line and safety distances, which would restrict the coverage of the cable car area.

The Environmental Impact Assessment Law stipulates that no assessment is needed if the development area of a project is less than 4 hectares and the amount of soil dug up is less than 10,0002.

The project covers an area of 2.4 hectares and the amount of soil that would be have to be dug up is estimated at 5,000m2.

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