Tue, Jul 03, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Bridge project a threat, groups say

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?An urban renewal project in Sindian District could imperil the public while causing damage to a 70-year-old river crossing, several critics have charged

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups and legislators yesterday said an urban renewal project located next to Bitan Bridge (碧潭大橋) in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sindian Disctrict (新店) may cause structural damage to the bridge pier and may be a possible danger to the public.

The Bitan Bridge was built 70 years ago and along with its nearby riverside area, has become a popular tourist attraction in New Taipei City, where tourists frequently bike along a trail which runs along the river.

However, according to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), an urban renewal project approved by the New Taipei City Government located right next to the bridge is likely to place the public in danger and would also compromise cultural heritage.

She questioned the legitimacy of the project, asking why the scheme proposed by a private developer was approved when up to two-thirds of the project was located on land that belongs to public agencies — including the Taiwan Railway Administration, the Ministry of Finance’s National Property Bureau and the New Taipei City Government.

Civil engineer Wang Wei-min (王偉民) said the bridge pier counted as an urban renewal project area and that soil excavation up to 15m underground, located only about one meter from the closest bridge pier, could cause serious structural damage to the bridge.

“It is also possible that even before the developers begin soil excavation, the tremors from the initial land preparation operation will loosen the ground near the anchor pier and suspensions cable will break,” Wang said at a press conference hosted by Tien yesterday.

Tien urged the local government to push the construction area back as far as possible from the bridge pier to prevent jeopardizing public safety.

Local residents also expressed concerns over the base of the bridge pier which is exposed above ground, showing suspension cables which are only anchored in concreted land.

The Organization of Urban Re-s said the project was approved by the local city government in April, but that the public land upon which the project is being constructed should not be transferred into private hands because that would contradict the New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu’s (朱立倫) election promise of affordable housing policy.

In response, the city’s Urban and Rural Development Department said it has always put emphasis on maintaining the safety of the bridge and its suspension cables and that the bridge surface was renewed in 2000 with surveillance cameras set up near the pier base to monitor its stability.

Director of the department, Chang Fan (張璠), said the safety of the suspension cables and piers have been evaluated at urban renewal project meetings and that the city government would continue to monitor the project’s structural and construction safety.

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