Some mountain roads that sustained heavy damage from Typhoon Morakot will not be rebuilt anytime soon, Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said last week ahead of today’s second anniversary of the deadly storm.
However, Mao said the roads would be reinforced so that they could be traversed.
The roads that will not to be rebuilt include the Taoyuan (桃源) section of Highway No. 20, the Siaolin Village (小林) section of Highway No. 11 and the Ali (阿禮) section of Highway No. 24.
Tyhoon Morakot severely damaged highways in southern parts of the country, and in addition to the roads Mao said would not be rebuilt, 26 of the 53 bridges damaged or destroyed by the August 2009 storm will not be rebuilt because of their mountainous locations.
Only eight of the 27 bridges selected for reconstruction have been completely rebuilt, while the other 19 remain under construction.
The Directorate-General of Highways said the remaining 19 bridges would all be completed before the third anniversary of the typhoon.
Mao said that after the roads reopen, minor construction would continue to reinforce the roads, such as adding solid foundations or building makeshift steel bridges.
Though the roads may not retain the functionality they had before Morakot, the reinforcements would afford some protection against heavy rain, Mao said.
The most difficult part about working on the heavily damaged roads was the fact that riverbeds are rising rapidly — a situation which continues to grow, Mao said, citing the example of the Bu Tang Bu Na Si River (布唐布那斯溪), where the riverbed rose 20m after 500mm of rain over three days during heavy rains last month.
One cannot even begin to assess how to rebuild roads in areas like these, Mao said.
A similar situation exists throughout the country’s mountainous areas, Mao said, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) wanted to avoid wasting money on projects that could be a repeat of the Central Cross-Island Highway disaster at the section between Shang Kukuan (上谷關) and Deji (德基).
Prior to Morakot, the government spent NT$2 billion (US$68 million) repairing the section of highway between Shang Kukuan, only for that section to be destroyed again by floodwater before it could even be reopened.
Directorate-General of Highways Director Hsu A-ming said the three sections that will not be rebuilt — the 60km section from Cinhe (勤和) to Siangyang (向陽) on Highway No. 20; the 14km section at the Siaolin Village section on Highway No. 11; and the 10km section from Wutai (霧台) to Ali on Highway No. 24 — would be open for normal traffic, but would be immediately closed during periods of heavy rain.
These sections could remain closed up to one or two months a year, Hsu said.
Hsu said the terrain had changed so much that rebuilding was not feasable in the short term, adding that the agency was already communicating with residents in the effected regions.
Makeshift steel bridges, box culverts and other facilities will be used to increase the durability of the roads in the event of natural disasters and to prevent them from being cut off by rainfall, Hsu said, adding that the goal was to maintain open passage, while not damaging the land.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer