Highway 20, the only main road through Kaohsiung’s Taoyuan (桃源) and Liouguei (六龜) townships, is now accessible, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said yesterday. Both towns became isolated after Typhoon Morakot hit the nation in August, as mudslides caused by torrential rains eroded the foundations of the road and destroyed several bridges.
The DGH originally set the goal of making the section between Jiasian (甲仙) and Yakou (埡口) on Highway 20 accessible by February, but crews managed to make it accessible by Nov. 30.
Lin Ching-chou (林清洲), deputy director of the DGH’s third maintenance office, said that the section between kilometer markers 96 and 103 near the Laonong River (荖濃溪) is still buried and temporary passages on the river bed must be used.
“We have received many petitions from the residents of Taoyuan Township saying they wanted to go home as soon as possible,” Lin said. “Our job was to clear a way quickly so that the machines can go in and remove the mud.”
Lin said that some of the excavators and bulldozers were so big that they had to disassemble the machines, transport the parts to the site and reassemble them.
The reconstruction plan approved by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) places the section from Jiasian to Taoyuan in category A, meaning that the DGH can repair the road at its original site. The project is to be completed by June 2011.
The section from Taoyuan to Yakou, on the other hand, was designated as category B because the riverbeds were elevated and the roads were seriously damaged. The DGH is entrusting a consulting firm to evaluate the possibility of reconstruction.
In Taitung, the section between Yakou and Sinwu (新武) became passable on Sept. 25. Meanwhile, the DGH said yesterday that it has allocated NT$2.237 billion (US$6.78 million) to a two-year project that aims to improve the conditions of roads to some of the nation’s scenic spots.
The DGH said that some local governments lack the funds to maintain roads to scenic areas. The budget will allow the nation’s largest highway authority to begin improvement work, including solidifying embankments, repaving roads and installing facilities to improve road safety. It has listed 108 items to accomplish within two years, covering roads to Jioufen (九份), Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), Alishan (阿里山) and other national scenic areas.
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