A “severe test” awaits commuters returning to work today after the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday, as a new road construction project is to begin following the demolition of a Zhongxiao Bridge (忠孝橋) onramp next to the Taipei Railway Station, former Taipei City Government Department of Transportation commissioner Jason Lin (林志盈) said yesterday.
“Forgive me for being pessimistic, but the New Taipei City Government already foresees traffic backups of up to 5km or even 10km on connecting roads to Zhongxiao Bridge, Zhongxing Bridge (中興橋) and Taipei Bridge at New Taipei City’s end,” he said on Facebook.
In Taipei, commuters should expect traffic jams on Civic Boulevard, the Huanhe Expressway and the above-mentioned three bridges, he added.
Lin said completion of the demolition project on Saturday would increase traffic on Taipei’s Zhongxiao E Road and Zhongxiao W Road, as two of three public works projects designed to alleviate such pressures have been delayed.
The opening of the MRT rail link from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, originally scheduled for 2014, would have increased public transportation available between Taipei Railway Station and New Taipei City’s Sanchong (三重), Sinjhuang (新莊), Wugu (五股) and Taishan (泰山) districts, Lin said.
Also incomplete is a dedicated bus lane near the Taipei West Bus Station on Zhongxiao W Road, which was meant to increase the efficiency of municipal buses, commercial buses using the highway toward Hsinchu City and vehicular traffic on Zhongxiao E Road and Zhongxiao W Road, Lin said.
Only one of three associated construction projects — the MRT Songshan Line — has been completed on time, which is not enough to avert congestion, he said.
While complementing city officials and workers for finishing the demolition project during the limited time available, Lin said that directing traffic would prove “as challenging as the demolition itself,” adding that the two delayed projects could not be completed sooner than next year.
Lin said he hopes he is proved wrong, but that, in his opinion, existing measures are inadequate to relieve traffic congestion, and called on the public to use public transportation and to pay attention to traffic reports to avoid congestion.
“We will know on Monday how long the traffic backups will get,” he said.
The Taipei Department of Transportation urged commuters to depart 20 minutes earlier to avoid delays, while Taipei Mayor Ko We-je (柯文哲) published a traffic diversion plan on Facebook.
“The traffic diversion plan has been released to save time for everyone as [today] is the first working day after the demolition” of the onramp, Ko said.
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