People commuting between Taipei and New Taipei City (新北市) must brace themselves for difficult days ahead as the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) announced yesterday that part of the Zhongshan Overpass on Provincial Highway No. 1 would be closed for construction.
The Zhongshan Overpass is one of the most important roadways connecting Taipei and New Taipei City.
DGH Deputy Director Chao Hsin-hua (趙興華) said the overpass has been in use for 30 years, and many of the expansion joints and cantilever plates on the structure have been damaged.
He said the directorate had planned to repair the damaged parts three years ago. However, as the Taipei MRT line connecting Sinjhuang (新莊) and Luzhou (蘆洲) was not operational at the time, the directorate decided to postpone construction for fear that it would worsen the traffic between Taipei and New Taipei City during peak hours.
Based on the directorate’s plans, one of the northbound lanes between Sanchong (三重) and Taipei would be closed from Saturday until July. From July to September, one of the southbound lanes will also be closed for construction.
The directorate had also estimated that construction on the northbound lane would mainly affect commuters heading to Taipei in the morning, with the travel time increasing from 12 minutes to 40 minutes.
Construction on the southbound lanes will affect commuters going home from work or school, with travel time increasing by between 25 and 30 minutes.
Because only one lane of traffic will be available, any accident or unexpected event on the overpass could paralyze traffic, the directorate said.
Meanwhile, the directorate said fire engine and ambulance drivers should avoid taking the overpass during the time of construction.
Commuters are advised to use the MRT system or public buses.
The directorate also suggested several alternative routes into the city, including over Zhongxing Bridge and Taipei Bridge.
The construction work will cover the section from Huanhe South Rd to Houpu St in Sanchong, which is approximately 2km long.
The directorate needs to replace 22 expansion joints and reinforce a 3m cantilever plate on the overpass, with the estimated costs topping NT$58 million (US$1.9 millon).