The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday asked Yang Yeong-bin (楊永斌), dean of the civil engineering department at National Taiwan University, to convene a special task force to evaluate the overall condition of the Hsuehshan Tunnel.
A section of the 12.9km Hsueh-shan Tunnel has experienced signs of water leakage several times over the past week.
Yang said yesterday he has yet to confirm with the ministry regarding the authority of the task force.
The first priority is to drain the water in the tunnel and see if the leak has expanded, he added.
Yang said the task force will also have to review the historical records regarding the construction of the tunnel and match them with the field research findings.
He said the worst-case scenario would be that the leak occurred in locations where structural collapse or water surges had occurred during construction.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (
"We've got to do what we've got to do," Su said yesterday morning during the weekly Cabinet meeting. "For everybody's safety, we may have to close the entire tunnel to fix the problems."
Su said the tunnel was one of the most difficult construction projects to complete in the world because it goes through an unstable join between two mountains. Now that it is experiencing water leaks, the government must assume that the tunnel has major construction problems and move to fix it as soon as possible
Su also encouraged the ministry to continue its promotion of the tunnel as well as the Ilan area.
Su went on to congratulate the ministry on its efforts to keep the traffic flowing through the tunnel during the holidays.
"It is just like a good movie. Everybody wants to watch the movie so the theater becomes full quickly. The tunnel is like the movie theatre and it is the government's obligation to give everyone a chance to see the movie," Su said.
"We cannot guarantee unrestricted traffic flow. But we can help people avoid traffic jams by telling them when and where traffic is heavy and we have been been doing this job well," Su added.
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan