Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday promised to protect the rights of the city’s residents and ensure traffic quality in Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投) districts, as Taipei City councilors from across party lines expressed opposition to the construction of an expressway that aimed to ease the traffic burden in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui (淡水).
The 4.7km Danbei Expressway, which is to start near Hongshulin MRT Station and end on Dadu Road in Beitou, was proposed by the New Taipei City Government to address traffic issues in the Tamsui area. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) gave a conditional approval for the pro-ject’s environmental impact assessment last year, and construction has begun at Danshui in August.
Presenting a report on the construction project at the Taipei City Council yesterday, Hau expressed regret over approving the environmental impact assessment, which could lead to construction starting, and said he would meet with New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) next week to express Taipei residents’ concerns about the impact of the expressway on local traffic in the Beitou and Shilin areas.
“We will communicate with New Taipei City on the issue and local traffic in Taipei City will be our top priority. Construction of the part of the road in Taipei City will not start without my consent,” he said.
However, Taipei City councilors were not satisfied with Hau’s promise. They called on the city government to toughen its stance and stop cooperating with New Taipei City on building the road.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄) cited records from previous meetings between the New Taipei City Government and Taipei City’s Department of Transportation, and said the city has only demanded that New Taipei City build an overpass on Dadu Road as a solution to the increase in traffic volume after the expressway is opened.
“Under the pressure of the central government and New Taipei City, I don’t think Mayor Hau will be able to say ‘no’ to the project, especially as we need New Taipei City’s cooperation in building an athletes’ village for the Summer Universiade in 2017 on its land,” he said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Dai Hsi-chin (戴錫欽) also questioned the city government’s determination to treat the city’s traffic quality as priority and urged the mayor to express opposition to the project immediately.
“If you cannot voice our concerns and protect the rights of Taipei residents, you are not qualified to be Taipei’s mayor. It’s not enough to express regret over the project. The New Taipei City Government has started the construction, and who will people blame if we allow the construction now and call for a stop later?” he said.
Hau said the city government would conduct traffic impact assessments and discuss strategies to improve local traffic in Danshui and Beitou with New Taipei City, as well as the budget for the project, before deciding whether it would agree to part of the construction in Taipei City.