The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday said it would spend NT$19.1 billion (US$647 million) widening key sections of the road on the South Link Highway that connects Taitung County and Greater Kaohsiung.
Work to improve road conditions on the Suhua Highway began at the end of last year.
Both the Suhua and South Link highways are key links connecting the east and west coasts.
Lai Chang-hsiung (賴常雄), director of the planning division at the Directorate General of Highways (DGH), said it could launch bidding sessions for the contract by the end of the year, provided the project secured final approval from the Executive Yuan.
He said the project was scheduled to be completed by 2017.
Lai said the DGH still needed to meet several requirements set by the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee before construction could begin, including one year of research on ring-necked pheasants.
At present, most sections on the South Link Highway have only two lanes of traffic.
Under the DGH’s plans, construction would begin from Sianglan Village (香蘭) in Taimali Township (太麻里鄉), Taitung County, and extend to Caopu Village (草埔) in Shihzih Township (獅子鄉), Pintung County, a distance of a little more than 40km.
The section between Sianglan and Daniao Village (大鳥) in Dawu (大武) Township, Taitung County, would be widened to create up to four traffic lanes.
Meanwhile, the DGH said it would choose a new route to connect Ansu Village (安朔) in Daren Township (達仁), Taitung County, and Caopu, adding that it would also have four traffic lanes.
The section connecting Daniao and Ansu already has four lanes.
Lai said the new route would be shorter than the current route by 4.76km and include two tunnels. One tunnel will be 200m in length, while the other will be 4.8km.
Lai said the new design aimed to improve highway safety. The speed limit could be raised to 60kph, because drivers would have room to safely overtake slow vehicles.