The Taipei Public Works Department has put public lives at risk for failing to come with concrete measures to reinforce the structure of the sinking Minquan Bridge (民權大橋), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Chou Po-ya (周柏雅) said.
Chou’s comment came in the wake of Taipei Public Works Commissioner Peng Cheng-shen’s (彭振聲) comments that the bridge, which connects Songshan (松山) and Neihu (內湖) districts, had sunk about 30cm because of soil liquefaction, but that starting reinforcement work would cause traffic problems.
The department said the bridge is still safe, but that the problem must be dealt with in the long run.
Chou on Monday asked if the department’s inaction would put public lives at risk and whether its concern over traffic congestion was prompted by its possible negative impact on Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je’s (柯文哲) re-election bid.
According to a Ministry of the Interior map, areas in Taipei that are at-risk to soil liquefaction are: Zhongshan (中山), Songshan, Neihu and the Keelung River (基隆河) riverside near Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport).
High potential soil liquefaction areas also include an area that stretches from Tiding Boulevard (堤頂大道) by the Keelung River riverside to the overpass on Keelung Road and ends at the northern side of Taipei City Hall MRT station, which encompasses four bridges, including Minquan Bridge.
Chou said that following the collapse of a motorway bridge in Genoa, Italy, he reviewed the department’s 2016-2017 bridge inspection reports and found discrepancies in the tests conducted for bridges across the city.
Some examinations cover more than 20 items, including safety, such as stability and reinforcement corrosion, while others cover only three or five items.
The reports showed that the old Huannan Overpass (舊環南高架橋) and Minquan Bridge did not pass the safety examinations, he said, adding that the bridge failed three of the six safety tests and barely passed another one.
As Peng has confirmed that the bridge has sunk about 30cm, Chou asked if the state would compensate the public if there was an accident.
“How can the department say the bridge is safe when the examination reports show that it failed so many safety items, and why did the government not allocate a budget to reinforce its structure next year,” he asked.
Department Deputy Commissioner Chang Yu-huei (張郁慧) said the bridge is considered safe, based on the latest evaluation reports, but the problem must be dealt with.
However, the department has not discussed whether it should be reinforced or demolished and rebuilt, so only road resurfacing work is being done for the time being, Chang said.
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