The Taipei High Administrative Court’s decision to nullify an environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee’s approval of the proposed Tamsui-Taipei expressway project on Wednesday has drawn different reactions from the Taipei City and New Taipei City (新北市) governments, with the former saying it respects the court’s decision and the latter vowing to continue the construction.
“Because the EIA approval is still valid at this point and construction has already begun, the project will continue,” New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) said yesterday, adding that the city would seek to balance the public’s reaction and the need to preserve the environment, as well as ask the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to continue with an appeal of the case.
Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), on the other hand, said the city respects the court’s decision.
“We will need to communicate with the residents about the budget of the project as well as other relevant issues,” he added. “The project will continue only if we secure the approval of local residents.”
The proposed expressway is about 4.7km long and is to connect Highway No. 2 in New Taipei City’s Tamsui (淡水) and the intersection of Dadu Road (大度路) and Zhongyang N Road (中央北路) in Taipei City. The project was estimated to cost NT$4.6 billion.
While some people argued that the new expressway would ease traffic congestion on Highway No. 2, some local residents do not see the project as an effective solution to the problem.
“Tamsui does not need this kind of construction, which would benefit mostly real-estate developers,” resident Chang Chien (張簡) said.
Another Tamsui resident surnamed Hsu (許) said the biggest problem causing constant traffic congestion on Highway No. 2 was perpetual government constructions on the highway.
“Although that main road has three lanes, often only one or two lanes are available,” she said.
Hsu also questioned the necessity of building the expressway, given that the government has already approved the construction of a light-rail transport system and has been encouraging people to use public transportation more often.
Construction of the Tamsui-Taipei expressway was first proposed by the Directorate-General of Highways in 1996. It was turned down by the EIA committee in 2000, but the proposal was again tabled by New Taipei City in 2008 and was conditionally approved by the EIA committee.
Environmentalists who oppose the construction filed an administrative lawsuit in April seeking to nullify the EIA committee’s approval.
According to the verdict on Wednesday, the EIA committee approved the project based on insufficient information and the conditions it set also failed to consider if New Taipei City has the ability to meet those conditions.
The committee also failed to ascertain if the construction would damage the Mangrove Forest Conservation Area, nor did the committee provide specific requirements on the types of hedges to be constructed to serve as a buffer between the construction and the conservation area, the verdict said.