The National Expressway Engineering Bureau yesterday said it would conduct a “practical evaluation” on whether the section of the Wugu-Yangmei Overpass between Wugu (五股) in New Taipei City (新北市) and Jhungli (中壢) in Taoyuan County could become operational before the Lunar New Year holiday next month, adding that the section would not be opened for traffic until it passed inspections from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
The 40km overpass has been constructed on both sides of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (National Freeway No. 1) to ease congestion between Wugu and Yangmei on the freeway during peak hours. The bureau opened the section between Jhungli and Yangmei (楊梅) to traffic last month. That section is about 12km in length.
The bureau said that 97.4 percent of the overpass construction has been completed, adding that construction near the Airport Interchange was delayed due to labor shortages.
“Persistent rain and low temperatures that have continued since the end of last year have affected the work for concrete placement, road pavement and the drawing of traffic lines,” the bureau said. “The section is located at the Taoyuan plateau, and workers employed to work on the overpass have to endure long hours in an environment with high humidity, low temperatures and strong winds. This has led to a high turnover of workers.”
The bureau said the unfinished construction should take about seven to 10 days to complete, but that it has no control over how many workers are available each day.
The bureau said that it was still aiming to have the section between Wugu and Jhungli opened to traffic before the Lunar New Year holiday.
Construction of the overpass was launched in 2009, at an estimated cost of NT$88.2 billion (US$2.9 billion). The bureau said the overpass could divert about 30 percent of the ground traffic on Freeway No. 1 between Wugu and Yangmei, reducing the travel time in this section by between five and 10 minutes.