Taiwan’s freeways are today expected to see the heaviest southbound traffic during the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday as people go on holiday outings or visit their spouse’s family, the Freeway Bureau said yesterday.
Today, the second day of the Year of the Dragon, is the fourth day of the Lunar New Year holiday, when many married daughters return to their parents’ homes in line with the hui niang jia (回娘家) tradition.
The traffic volume is forecast to reach 70 million vehicle-kilometers, a measure of traffic flow, bureau official Cheng Chieh-wen (鄭傑文) said yesterday, adding that the figure is 1.5 times more than the average.
Photo: Taipei Times file
Freeways on the west coast and the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) are expected to see a surge in traffic as early as 6am today, he said.
The Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway would be heavily congested past 4pm, with 18 likely bottlenecks, while freeways on the west coast are expected to be congested well into the afternoon, he said.
Heavy congestion was yesterday reported in several areas along the nation’s freeways, with accidents making the situation worse.
As of 11am, the traffic volume had reached 38.2 million vehicle-kilometers and was expected to hit 122 million vehicle-kilometers by the end of the day, the bureau said.
Both figures were in line with estimates, it added.
The average traffic flow on freeways from midnight on Friday to 5am yesterday was 2.4 times more than the regular figure, said the bureau, which opened the emergency lanes along 33 sections of freeways prone to traffic congestion.
Although drivers had been advised to wait until after noon yesterday to travel south on freeways in western Taiwan and until after 5pm to use the southbound lanes of the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway to avoid potential traffic jams, traffic was still heavy as of 2:30pm on the southbound lanes of Freeway No. 5, with vehicles traveling 20kph to 40kph in the tunnel leading to Pinglin District (坪林) and 40kph to 60kph in the Hsuehshan Tunnel (雪山隧道), the bureau said.
Traffic was also backed up on the southbound lanes of the Formosa Freeway (Freeway No. 3) from Yingge District (鶯歌) and Guansi Township (關西), and on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1) from Yangmei District (楊梅) to Hsinchu.
Three traffic accidents that occurred between 10am and 11am aggravated traffic congestion, although they were cleared by 11am, the bureau said.
It encouraged people driving around Taiwan to use the 1968 freeway app to monitor traffic conditions on freeways.
The 168.thb.gov.tw site also provides real-time information about traffic on provincial highways.
Meanwhile, the Central Weather Administration (CWA) said that most of Taiwan would experience sunny or cloudy weather over the Lunar New Year weekend after the past few days of rain.
The improved weather would prevail in most parts of the nation due to a continued decline in atmospheric moisture, but eastern Taiwan, the Hengchun Peninsula and mountainous areas in the west might still experience sporadic precipitation, it said.
The weather would likely remain unchanged until Thursday when atmospheric moisture conditions could change, the CWA said.
Even with the improvement in weather, temperatures are expected to remain low, because of the lingering effects of a continental cold air mass and radiative cooling, it said.
Low temperatures would continue across the country until Tuesday, the CWA said.
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