The Ministry of Transportation and Communications will not meet its deadline for the opening of the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass (五楊高架橋) as it confirmed yesterday that the section of the overpass between Wugu (五股) and Jhongli (中壢) will not be ready for the Lantern Festival this weekend.
The overpass connecting Wugu in New Taipei City (新北市) and Yangmei (楊梅) in Taoyuan County is about 40km long. It will run parallel to Freeway No. 1 to ease congestion during peak hours.
The ministry managed to make the section between Jhungli and Yangmei — about 12km long — available to traffic in mid-December last year. It then set the goal of making the rest of the overpass ready before the Lunar New Year holiday.
The ministry said it would not be able to meet that goal because of inclement weather and a shortage of workers.
Former minister of transportation and communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), now vice premier, said earlier this month that the ministry would strive to complete safety inspections of the overpass during the Lunar New Year holiday and would open the section to traffic before the Lantern Festival this year.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時), who took office yesterday, said that the ministry is scheduled to have the entire Wugu-Yangmei Overpass open to traffic by the beginning next month.
“We could not find workers willing to work during the Lunar New Year holiday, so we were behind schedule during that period,” Yeh said. “We hope that we can quickly catch up and have the overpass operational by the beginning of March.”
National Expressway Engineering Bureau chief engineer Lu Jieh-bin (呂介斌) said that the bureau is scheduled to finish constructing the overpass this week.
He said that the work needs to pass safety inspections conducted by the ministry, adding that the entire overpass should be open for traffic either at the end of this month or the beginning of next month.
In related news, the Directorate General of Highways will start restricting access today to the section of Suhua Highway near the 115.8km milepost to continue unfinished construction.
The directorate said that only one lane would be open for two-way traffic, adding that vehicles must observe a speed limit of 25kph when passing through this section.
Large passenger or cargo vehicles must also keep a distance of 50m, it added.
The directorate closed the section in December last year as the road was severely eroded by heavy rain.
Two-way traffic on the section resumed on Jan. 30 to facilitate the trips of homebound travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday.
The directorate said that construction is scheduled to be completed by the end of May, adding that weather conditions would be a crucial factor in completing the work.