Thu, Mar 23, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers plea for infrastructure

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Liu Shih-fang, second right, and colleagues yesterday hold a press conference in Taipei to call for the construction of a new MRT line in Kaohsiung.

Photo: Cheng Hung-ta, Taipei Times

Lawmakers were keen to propose transportation projects on behalf of the counties they represent at a Transportation Committee meeting at the legislature yesterday, ahead of the unveiling of a major infrastructure program.

The Cabinet is today scheduled to reveal the details of its “Forward-Looking Infrastructure Development Program,” which is to be implemented over the next eight years on an estimated budget of NT$880 billion (US$28.9 billion), of which about 60 percent is to be spent on upgrading transport infrastructure.

Lawmakers made last-ditch efforts to pitch their ideas during a question-and-answer session following the committee meeting.

They were briefed by Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials about a plan to ease traffic congestion during the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day holiday next month and planned enhancements to transport infrastructure on the east coast and on outlying islands.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀), who represents Yilan County, complained that his county is only to receive NT$12 million through the program.

The central government always prioritizes the needs of people on the west coast over those on the east coast and the outlying islands, regardless of which party is in charge, he said.

He said that traffic jams always occur inside the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道) on the Chiang Wei-Shui Freeway (National Freeway No. 5) whenever there is a long weekend or a major national holiday, adding that it is also difficult for residents in eastern Taiwan to purchase railway tickets.

Chen said that he has been proposing a direct railway line be built between Taipei’s Nangang District (南港) and Yilan’s Toucheng Township (頭城), but the ministry is unwilling to incorporate this project into the Cabinet’s program.

Even though the Suhua Highway Improvement Project is scheduled to be completed next year, traffic in Yilan is only going to get worse once it is finished, because Suhua Highway (Highway No. 9) and National Freeway No. 5 are not connected, Chen said.

DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲), from Tainan, reminded Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) that his city is the only special municipality in the nation that does not have a mass rapid transit (MRT) system.

Lin said that Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) had proposed building two MRT lines and had submitted the plan to for the ministry’s approval last year.

“Premier Lin Chuan (林全) has said that the program aims to introduce projects minimizing developmental gaps between urban and rural areas, and this MRT system would be one of them. The needs of the people in the south have long been ignored; that is why Tainan still does not have a MRT system,” Lin added.

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