Erosion causes closure of section of Suhua Highway

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Dec 15, 2012 - Page 3

The Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) yesterday closed a section of the Suhua Highway between Suao (蘇澳) and Tongao (東澳) after a part of the road collapsed because of heavy rain.

DGH deputy director-general Chao Hsin-hua (趙興華) said the erosion had occurred 11km south of Suao. A 45m section of road slid down into a V-shaped valley at around 9am yesterday, he added.

“The area has already had 33 rainy days ever since November and accumulated rainfall in the last three days topped 237mm,” Chao said. “We detected collapses at this section at 7am yesterday and decided to close the section at 8:30am.”

No deaths or injury were reported, Chao said.

According to Chao, the section is in a geologically fragile zone and has been damaged by heavy rain several times in the past two years. Chao said the directorate aimed to resume operations of one traffic lane at the section for small passenger vehicles by Dec. 31.

He added the directorate hoped to make the section accessible by motor vehicles weighing below 20 tonnes before the Lunar New Year holidays next year.

With the highway closed for repairs, the Taiwan Railway Administration said it has increased the number of commuter trains operating between Yilan and Taitung. The additional train services will continue until the highway returns to normal.

TransAsia Airways said it has added one round-trip flight between Taipei and Hualien for the duration of the road repairs.

As many domestic travelers may have been planning to head to the east coast to celebrate New Year’s Eve, the Tourism Bureau said that hotels need to allow tourists to cancel reservations without being penalized based on contingency clauses in contracts.