The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday held an environmental review of the proposed Tambei Expressway (淡北道路, Tamsui-Taipei Expressway) to assess possible alternatives to the project, with environmental groups proposing the expansion of Highway No. 2 in lieu of building the expressway.
The project was originally a 4.7km passageway between New Taipei City’s Tamsui District (淡水) and Taipei’s Guandu (關渡) area, but during the most recent environmental review in September, the developer proposed extending the passageway with a 700m elevated section in Guandu to divert ground traffic, which was accepted by the EPA’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) committee.
The review yesterday defined possible alternatives to the now 5.4km expressway project, including the expansion of Highway No. 2, the only major arterial road linking Taipei and Tamsui; the replacement of the 700m elevated section with an underground tunnel; constructing an extended section to connect the expressway with the Zhoumei Expressway (洲美快速道路) that passes through Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), or an extra ring road that would connect with Guandu Bridge (關渡大橋).
Environmental Jurists Association lawyer Chang Yu-yin (張譽尹) said that there is no need to construct the Tambei Expressway if Highway No. 2 could be substantially expanded, adding that the soon-to-be-built Tamkang Bridge (淡江大橋), connecting Tamsui and Bali, and a light railway to be built in Tamsui would be enough to reduce traffic congestion in the area.
The developer said expanding the highway is impossible due to engineering difficulties, but Chang said that only a narrow section of the highway is problematic, and there is room for expansion along the rest of the road.
Previously, the EIA committee conditionally passed the expressway project in 2011, but the Taipei High Administrative Court rejected the review in 2013 on the grounds that the committee did not thoroughly assess the impact of the construction on the Mangrove Forest Conservation Area.
The developer resubmitted the expressway project and voluntarily attended the second round of EIA reviews in January.
In view of the court’s verdict, the EIA committee asked whether the developer had taken the nature reserve into consideration, but the developer said the project would not affect it, and therefore it is not an issue.
However, citing the court’s verdict, the committee demanded that the developer submit a conservation plan for the reserve to the Ministry of the Interior to comply with the court’s verdict and relevant regulations.
Environmental groups requested the developer assess the local groundwater system and the water quality of tributaries to the Tamsui River, as well as the potential impact of a Costco outlet to be opened in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投), which is expected to attract a large volume of traffic.
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