Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Hualien chief urges quick finish to Suhua project

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi (傅崑萁) yesterday asked the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to complete the Suhua Highway Improvement Project within three years.

Construction of the project was launched in January at the bridge crossing the Heping River (和平溪). The entire project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.

Fu made the request at a seminar organized by the Directorate General of Highways to determine the best construction method for the highway improvement project by taking into account the special geological conditions along the nation’s east coast.

Aside from Taiwanese experts, the organizer also invited specialists from Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and Hong Kong.

Fu said the project must be open to international bidders.

He said he was told by a German tunnel expert that the longest tunnel in the Suhua Highway Improvement Project — the planned 7.9km Kuanyin Tunnel (觀音隧道) — could be completed in two-and-a-half years with the most advanced construction methods used in Europe.

Given that there is already technology available for such complicated construction work, Fu said he was puzzled as to why it would take the ministry seven years to complete the entire project.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) was present at the seminar. In his opening speech, he said the ministry considered the “full life cycle” of a highway when executing construction.

“We want the highway to be safe during construction,” Mao said, adding that the same goals must apply for its use and maintenance.

“We will not overestimate the complexity of the project, nor will we underestimate the challenges,” Mao said. “We will not delay the project if we can finish it early.”

The Environmental Protection Administration’s environmental impact assessment committee gave conditional approval to the project in November last year against the objections of some environmentalists who said the decision had been rushed.

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