Three highway construction projects, which cost the nation about NT$146.3 billion (US$4.75 billion), are to be completed before the Lunar New Year holiday next year, the Directorate-General of Highways said yesterday.
Two remaining sections on the Suhua Expressway Improvement Project on Highway No. 9 — between Nanao (南澳) in Yilan County and Heping (和平) in Hualien County, and Hejhung (和中) and Dacingshuei (大清水) — are to be opened to traffic before the next Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 25.
The section between Suao (蘇澳) and Dongao (東澳) opened to traffic on Feb. 5 last year.
The improved highway is expected to help bring tourists to Yilan and Hualien, expand road capacity, raise vehicle operating speed and boost traffic safety, the agency said, adding that the project cost NT$52.88 billion.
The project to expand the width of the South Link Highway (南迴公路), which is also of part of Highway No. 9, is to be opened to traffic by the end of this year after construction of the remaining two stretches in Taitung are completed, the agency said, adding that the budget allocated for the project has topped NT$20.42 billion.
The widened highway would reduce travel time between Taitung and Pingtung counties, and facilitate tourism development in the area, it added.
The Sibin Expressway (Highway No. 61), also known as the “freeway for the poor,” would finally be completed after more than 20 years of construction.
The final stretch of the highway is to be opened to traffic by the end of this year, the agency said.
Building the expressway — which starts from Bali District (八里) in New Taipei City and ends at the north bank of the Tsengwen River — cost about NT$73 billion, agency data showed.
The agency added that construction of the main section of the Tamkang Bridge (淡江大橋) is to begin on Saturday.
After holding seven failed bids, the agency finally found a qualified contractor for the project.
Construction of the bridge first drew opposition from critics who said it would block the sunset in Tamsui (淡水), a famous local attraction. It later caused a stir in the international community as the winning design — an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge — was made by the late Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid.
The bridge is scheduled to be opened to traffic by the end of 2024, the agency said, adding that it would cost NT$21.19 billion.
Once completed, the bridge would shorten travel time between Tamsui and Bali, and ease congestion in Tamsui during peak hours, it said.
As the agency has reserved space on the bridge to build a light rail line, the New Taipei City Government can use the bridge to build an extension line of the Danhai Light Rail System, it added.
The agency is scheduled to announce its plan to build a bridge connecting Nangan (南竿) and Beigan (北竿) islands in Lienchiang County on June 30, adding that it aims to have the project pass an environmental assessment review and approved by the Executive Yuan by December 2021.
Construction of the bridge is estimated to cost NT$12.71 billion, it said.
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