The Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday approved the allocation of NT$18 billion (US$604.9 million) from the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program’s budget to carry out construction on the second phase of the Taipei MRT system’s Wanda-Shulin (light green) line.
The Executive Yuan in February 2010 approved the two-phase plan and asked Taipei to draw up plans for land development and reallocation of city finances to expedite the process, the ministry said.
As New Taipei City was named a special municipality later that year, failure to arrive at a consensus put the project in limbo until Dec. 8, 2016, when the deputy mayors of Taipei and New Taipei City announced that the project would continue, the ministry said.
The second phase of the line is to connect New Taipei City’s Tucheng (土城), Banciao (板橋), Shulin (樹林) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts, the ministry said, adding that of its 13.3km, 2.8km are to be underground and 10.5km are to be elevated.
The medium-capacity transit line is to cost NT$55.8 billion, of which the central government is expected to provide NT$18 billion, the ministry said.
The line is expected to satisfy the transit needs of residents in the four districts and would connect with the Orange and Blue lines, the ministry said.
The funding would be given to the New Taipei City Government from next fiscal year to fiscal year 2020, the city government said.
The city government had previously panned the Executive Yuan for the line’s exclusion from the infrastructure program, saying that it was a “deliberate sidelining of New Taipei City.”
Democratic Progressive Party legislators Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧), Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) and Wu Chi-ming (吳琪銘) on Tuesday petitioned Premier William Lai (賴清德) to include the line under the program during its planning phase, the city government said.
Lai, saying he had realized the line’s importance to area residents, ordered the ministry to expedite the eligibility assessment for it to receive program funding, the ministry said.
In response to the apparent policy U-turn, Department of Railways and Highways Director-General Wei Yu (魏瑜) said the ministry’s decision was based on New Taipei City and Taipei arriving at a consensus regarding second-phase planning for the line.
The efforts of the three legislators also helped expedite the process, Wei added.
A formal budget request for the second phase would be forwarded to the Executive Yuan once it is completed, Wei said.
The infrastructure program is to receive NT$882 billion over eight years and is expected to gross NT$1.7 trillion in economic growth, according to Executive Yuan estimates.
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