Wed, Jan 07, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taipei mayor unveils plan to renovate Chongyang Bridge for traffic safety

NO FREE RIDE:The city reaffirmed its commitment to eliminating all 24,000 free parking spaces, which the transport chief said should free up more parking spaces

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) shake-up of Taipei’s traffic system continued yesterday, with the city planning a new construction to increase safety on the city’s Chongyang Bridge.

At a press conference following the weekly city government meeting, Ko said the government had previously not “felt the pain” of the high rate of accidents on the bridge spanning the Tamsui River (淡水河) between Taipei’s Shilin (士林) and New Taipei City’s Lujhou (蘆洲) districts, with more than 200 traffic accidents occurring in the past four years.

“Increased traffic on the bridge since it was constructed [27 years ago] has made it more dangerous,” Taipei City Department of Transportation Commissioner Chung Hui-yu (鍾慧諭) said, adding that more than 5,000 scooters pass over the bridge during peak hours.

The access ramp for scooters will be redesigned to increase safety as the motorbikes merge into traffic, Chung said.

The existing access ramp is to remain open until construction on the new ramp is finished late next year, she said.

Chung also reaffirmed the department’s commitment to eliminating free parking spaces in the city, as well as considering holding an online vote on the continuation of a pedestrian zone within the Gongguan (公館) area.

The zone, whose trial period is set to expire on Sunday, has been in place since August last year. Cars and scooters are barred from entering five alleys within the area during weekends and holiday afternoons and evenings.

While some stores in the area oppose the restrictions, many city residents support the idea, with foot traffic doubling since the zone was implemented, Chung said.

She said eliminating free parking spaces was fundamentally a matter of effectively using city resources, including taxpayers’ money spent on maintaining roads.

“Roads are city property, not your family’s parking lot,” she said, “Every person needs to pay to park just as they need to pay to ride a bus.”

The department plans to eliminate all of the city’s 24,000 free parking spaces over the next two years, beginning with 3,000 spots in Wenshan District (文山) next month.

Chung said eliminating free parking spaces would increase the number of vehicles that the spaces could accommodate by encouraging drivers to reduce parking time.

In conjunction with adjustments to the city’s public transportation system, this would enable the city to gradually eliminate parking spots, opening up space to widen roads and sidewalks, she said.

The department also hopes to win approval from the city council to raise fees on parking spaces to further free up space, she said.

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