Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Arterial road likely to be closed for lantern festival

‘DAILY ROUTINE’:Departmental disagreements over traffic control and public events are routine ‘bickering,’ the Taipei mayor said of planned Taipei road closures

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

With the Taipei Lantern Festival less than one month away, the Department of Information and Tourism and the Department of Transportation are reportedly at loggerheads as to the scope of traffic control for the event.

The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) yesterday reported that Department of Information and Tourism Commissioner Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) proposed a traffic control plan to block all lanes of traffic on Zhonghua Road at the Zhongxiao W Road and Chengdu Road intersection for the event, which is to run from Feb. 4 to Feb. 12.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) backed Chien’s proposal, the report said.

Taipei Department of Transportation Commissioner Chang Jer-yang (張哲揚) opposed the plan, citing concerns over the potentially negative effect a large-scale road closure would have, the report said.

“Zhonghua Road is a longitudinal artery. It must not be blocked off for more than one day,” Chang was quoted as saying.

He also expressed concerns over the height of floats to be used during the event, which could hit traffic signs and a footbridge next to Fuxing Elementary School.

Ko said that the municipal government would seek to reach an equilibrium on the issue.

“Although the plan is still being reviewed, it will be announced in time to ensure that it is well executed,” Ko said.

The tourism department wants to close roads to make more room for floats and parades during the event, but the transportation department is worried that the plan would cause traffic congestion, he said.

The disagreement is just a “daily routine” at the city government, Ko said, citing as an example the city’s preparations for the annual Taipei Marathon, which has seen the Taipei Department of Sports and the transportation department “bicker” over traffic control every year.

“As mayor, I must bear responsibility for the decisions I make. I can only strive to find a middle ground everyone can agree to,” the mayor said.

His administration would do its best to make the festival a success, he said.

Meanwhile, Taipei Department of Information and Tourism deputy Director Chen Yu-hsin (陳譽馨) said that a carnival would be held on Feb. 21 as part of the festival, but that the route for a parade is still being planned.

Taipei Traffic Engineering Office head Hsieh Ming-hung (謝銘鴻) said the tourism department should have an alternative route and traffic control plans ready to prevent the carnival from affecting traffic too much.

Additional reporting by Kuo Yi

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