A 12-hour traffic jam on a stretch of road between Yilan County’s Suao Township (蘇澳) and Hualien County’s Dongao Township (東澳) on the improved Suhua Highway plagued travelers on the first day of the long Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.
The 9.7km section had not seen significant traffic since its reopening on Feb. 5 due to the magnitude 6.0 earthquake that hit Hualien the next day, and this was its first real challenge, the Directorate-General of Highways said.
Vehicles traveling on the expressway section yesterday exceeded 900 per hour, the peak amount for the section, the agency said, adding that traffic snarl started to back up at about 2am and did not lessen until 2pm.
Photo: Chiang Chih-hsiung, Taipei Times
It took drivers 30 to 50 minutes to travel the 4km distance between the Suao Interchange on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) and the Suao Tunnel entrance to the Suhua Highway, the agency said.
Southbound lanes in Suao Township barely moved, and drivers were seen leaving their vehicles and walking along the road to relieve themselves of boredom, it added.
The Suao Township Precinct tried to ease the congestion by dispatching police officers to direct traffic at key intersections, with Deputy Precinct Chief Tian Hsien-ting (田獻庭) personally directing traffic at the Suao Tunnel entrance, it said.
The agency said it expects further congestion on the Suhua Highway’s southbound lanes until noon today, adding that the return rush is expected to start on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) yesterday inspected a traffic control center in the agency’s Yilan County Fourth Maintenance Office.
The drive from Taipei to Yilan, which normally takes 90 minutes, took two hours and 20 minutes, Hochen said, adding that there was still room for improvement.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications should strive to inform drivers about alternative routes, he said.
Drivers started accessing the Suao-Dongao section earlier than expected, which was perhaps caused by a wish to take advantage of the good weather during the holiday, Hochen said.
Southbound traffic flowed much more smoothly on Highway No. 5, as the ministry had taken measures to divert traffic there, he added.
Hochen called on drivers to pay attention to road information broadcasts as the end of the holiday nears, adding that the information could help them avoid traffic jams and delays.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
More than half of Taiwan’s middle-aged population, those aged between 40 and 64, have at least one of the “three highs” — high blood pressure, high blood lipids or high blood sugar — and an unhealthy waist size, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said, adding that more than 30 percent also have metabolic syndrome. The HPA, the Taiwan Millennium Health Foundation and local health departments are cooperating to encourage people to regularly measure their waist circumference and keep it at a healthy size — no more than 90cm for adult men and no more than 80cm for adult women. Taichung Veterans General
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’