The nation is planning to build Freeway No. 7 in Greater -Kaohsiung and extend Freeway No. 4 from Fongyuan (豐原) to Tanzih (潭子), according to the National Expressway Engineering Bureau.
Both projects have sparked controversy over potential damage to the environment. The extension of Freeway No. 4 was initially rejected by the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee because most of the road sections were planned for mountainous areas.
Animal welfare advocates also said that building Freeway No. 7 would disrupt the route of migratory birds near Fongshan Reservoir and Kaoping River.
Chen Hong-ren (陳宏仁), deputy director of the bureau’s planning division, said officials submitted the environmental impact report for Freeway No. 4 to the Environmental Protection Administration last month. He said the bureau had also amended the construction plan for Freeway No. 7 following proposals from environmentalists, adding that the environmental impact -assessment report would probably be submitted next month.
If everything goes as planned, the bureau would start drafting detailed plans for both freeways next year, with construction work scheduled to be completed in 2017, Chen said.
Based on the bureau’s plan, the route from Fongyuan to Tanzih would be about 11.5km long. The length of three tunnels on the route was cut to by 3.7km to reduce their environmental impact. The cost of building Freeway No. 3 is estimated at more than NT$25.2 billion.
Freeway No. 7 starts at -Kaohsiung Port and passes through Linyuan (林園), and several other districts in Greater Kaohsiung before it joins Freeway No. 10. The entire 23km route will be built on an overpass at an estimated cost of NT$54 billion.
The bureau said the construction costs for both freeways are relatively expensive because they skirt major metropolitan areas, which means land appropriation costs are higher.
In addition, the fact the Freeway No. 7 will be an overpass freeway, the need for tunnels on Freeway No. 3 also raised costs.
Once completed, Freeway No. 7 would ease the traffic on the southern end of Freeway No. 1, Chen said.
Freeway No. 4, would enable residents in Taiping (太平) and Beitun (北屯) to access Freeway No. 1 without driving through metropolitan Taichung, he added.