The rebuilt Nanfangao Bridge in Yilan County’s Suao Township (蘇澳) opened to traffic yesterday, with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) telling a ceremony that she hopes the new bridge creates opportunities to revive the fishing town.
The original bridge collapsed on Oct. 1, 2019, killing six workers from the Philippines and Indonesia who were on fishing vessels that were crushed by the falling structure.
Nine other Philippine and Indonesian workers, one person who was driving a tanker truck on the bridge when it collapsed and three rescue personnel were injured in the incident.
Photo: Chiang Chih-hsiung, Taipei Times
Tsai said the bridge’s collapse caused significant casualties and had a major impact on the local economy, tourism and traffic.
She thanked Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) Cabinet for its contributions to efforts to rebuild the bridge.
The project faced numerous challenges, including dismantling the old bridge and designing the new one, as well as building the structure during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hampered progress, Tsai said.
Construction of the 796.53m Nanfangao Bridge began on July 16, 2020. It cost NT$860 million (US$28 million at the current exchange rate).
The bridge’s opening had to be pushed back by three months from Sept. 18 after a problem occurred on May 27 involving the pouring of concrete, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said on July 11.
Tsai said the bridge is expected to boost the local economy and tourism while improving traffic flow at the Nanfangao Fishing Port (南方澳漁港).
She also said the bridge’s unique mackerel shape would make it an important landmark that signals to fishers that they have arrived home when they return to Nanfangao.
Su said the government has conducted safety checks on 26,000 bridges across Taiwan, with 101 determined to be in need of repair or reinforcement.
So far, 100 of the bridges have been repaired or reinforced, with the work on the last one scheduled to be completed in April next year, he said.
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