The overpass connecting Wugu (五股) in New Taipei City (新北市) and Yangmei Township (楊梅) in Taoyuan County could become operational by the end of this year, the National Expressway Engineering Bureau said yesterday.
The Wugu-Yangmei overpass is part of the Freeway No. 1 and was built to ease congestion between Wugu and Yangmei during peak hours, the bureau said.
Construction of the 40km section was launched in 2009, with an estimated cost of NT$88.2 billion (US$2.9 billion).
The overpass comprises 85 percent of the section.
Bureau director-general Tseng Dar-jen (曾大仁) said the construction of the overpass would soon be completed, adding that it must pass a safety inspection first.
“We hope the overpass will be open to traffic by the end of this year,” Tseng said.
“If we fail to have it inspected by the end of this year, we would have to wait until the beginning of next year,” he said.
The bureau said the overpass could divert about 30 percent of the ground traffic on the same section on Freeway No. 1, reducing the travel time from Wugu to Yangmei by between five and 10 minutes.
Tseng said the bureau would also establish a high-occupancy control lane on both the southbound and northbound lanes between Taishan (泰山) and Jhungli (中壢) to lower the overpass’ impact on the environment and increase its efficiency, which was the commitment made by the bureau when the project was reviewed by the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee.
To use the high-occupancy lanes, there must be at least two other passengers in the vehicles besides the driver, Tseng said. The rule would apply on weekdays as well as holidays.
Bureau chief engineer Lu Jieh-bin (呂介斌) said that the Wugu-Yangmei overpass would serve mainly mid to long-distance travelers.
Travelers will only switch between the overpass and the ground, or vice versa, at Taishan and Jhungli.
To serve travelers heading to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the overpass would have four ramps leading to Freeway No. 2, Lu said.