President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) presided over the inauguration of the New Cishan Bridge in Greater Kaohsiung yesterday and expressed hope that it would help to boost the local economy and tourism.
Ma hailed the quick completion of the 535m long, 22.2m wide single-tower balanced cantilevered bridge connecting Cishan (旗山) and Meinong (美濃) districts at a cost of about NT$600 million (US$20 million).
Construction of the bridge, which is built on the foundations of two older bridges, was completed five months ahead of schedule, despite being interrupted by Typhoon Morakot when it ravaged southern Taiwan in August 2009.
The project is one of 47 bridge renewal programs carried out by the government since Ma assumed office in May 2008. Construction of all 47 new bridges is scheduled to be completed by the end of next month.
Accompanied by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), the president also toured the old street of Cishan and sampled some cheesecake with banana, one of the area’s principal crops.
Later in the day, Ma chaired a ground-breaking ceremony for Siaolin (小林) No. 2, where 120 permanent houses will be built on a 5.81 hectare plot of land for the survivors of landslides triggered by Morakot, which destroyed the original village.
Morakot was the worst typhoon to hit southern Taiwan in more than 50 years and the government’s bungled response in the immediate aftermath sent Ma’s approval rating plunging.