Fri, Jan 20, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Hsuehshan Tunnel needs reversible lanes: councilor

By Lin Ching-lun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Reversible lanes should be installed in the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) to alleviate traffic congestion over the Lunar New Year holiday, Yilan County Councilor Tsai Wen-yi (蔡文益) said on Tuesday.

The Directorate-General of Highways said that implementing lane changes within the tunnel is feasible, but detailed plans would require professional consultation and the results would not be available before June.

Tsai’s suggestion was one of many options put forward by local leaders, with Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) also suggesting reversible lanes, while Yilan County Council Speaker Chen Wen-chang (陳文昌) proposed levying a tax on those entering the county through the tunnel.

The Hsuehshan Tunnel, opened in 2006, has four lanes, with two lanes each for north and southbound traffic, Tsai said.

Tsai suggested adding a reversible lane during the holiday, adding that experts said such a measure could relieve traffic congestion by between 30 percent and 50 percent.

However, Toucheng Township (頭城) Mayor Tsao Chien-shun (曹乾舜) said a reversible lane would be a safety concern.

The mayor said that the best solution would be to expedite the construction of the expressway between Shihcheng (石城) and Fulong (福隆), which would serve to divert traffic from the freeway.

The potential safety risks could be mitigated by thorough planning, Tsai said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said that the Directorate-General of Highways should establish a task force to study the reasons for the frequent traffic congestion in Hsuehshan Tunnel over the holiday and propose solutions, adding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications should seek to expedite the Taipei-Yilan railway project.

That project refers to a Taiwan Railways Administration plan to tunnel from Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) to Yilan County’s Toucheng Township, cutting the length of a rail journey from 95.9km to 53km.

The Directorate-General of Highways Toucheng Public Works Section said limited space in the tunnel and the high volume of traffic meant that congestion was inevitable, despite control measures, such as bus-only lanes and only admitting high-occupancy vehicles.

The viability of implementing reversible lanes is expected to be low, while allowing overtaking would be more acceptable, the section said.

All options have been forwarded to experts for risk assessment and the Directorate-General of Highways expects to receive the results by June, the section said.

No changes would be implemented before the Lunar New Year holiday, it said.

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