Initial construction work in preparation for Tamkang bridge is to begin later this month, with the structure scheduled to become operational by 2020, the Directorate-General of Highways said.
The bridge is to be 6km in length to connect the southern end of the Port of Taipei and Tamhai New Town (淡海新市鎮), the agency said.
The work is being done to ease traffic congestion on weekends and holidays and to provide faster access from the area to other parts of New Taipei City.
The project is divided into three stages, with first-stage construction to begin later this month, the agency said. Each stage should take about two years to complete, with the total construction fund topping NT$15.4 billion (US$515 million).
Chen Sung-tang (陳松堂), acting chief of the agency’s West Coast Expressway Northern Region Engineering Office, said the bridge will shorten the trip between Tamsui (淡水) and Bali (八里) districts by about 25 minutes once it is built.
People in Jinshan (金山) and Wanli (萬里) districts will be able to access the expressway to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport via the bridge as well, he added.
Chen said the main part of the bridge is to be 900m long and 44m wide because the New Taipei City Government plans to build light rail tracks on it.
The bridge’s spans are to be 200m apart, Chen said, adding that architects from around the world are invited to submit bids for the final design.
The design will take into account the sunsets in Tamsui and make it one of the important landmarks in Taiwan, Chen said.
The bridge was first proposed in 1988 and gained approval from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee in 1999. However, construction was stalled for many years due to a change in public construction priorities, and the agency was required to submit a report on the differences in projected environmental impacts between the original and updated proposals.
The general assembly of the EIA Committee approved the updated project last year.
The project has been opposed by residents, civic groups and environmentalists who are concerned that the bridge would ruin the area’s scenery and damage wetlands at the mouth of the Tamsui River (淡水河).
Other residents have supported the project, saying that the bridge would reduce traffic congestion and bring economic benefits to the area.
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