Taipei, The first section of the Suhua Highway improvement project, a road that cuts through the mountains along Taiwan's east coast, will open Feb. 5, in time for surging travel demand around the Lunar New Year holiday, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said Friday.
After passing a three-stage inspection, the 9.7-kilometer stretch from Su'ao to Dong'ao in Yilan County will open at 4 p.m. Feb. 5, the DGH said.
The new road includes the Su'ao Tunnel, the Baimi Bridge, the Yongle Bridge, the Dong'ao Tunnel and the Dongyue Tunnel, after which it rejoins the original highway.
The first section will be a safer and faster route than the existing road, taking 10 minutes instead of 30, the DGH said, but added that commercial vehicles are not allowed to enter at the current stage.
There will be a maximum speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour and a ban on overtaking on the road.
The full Suhua Highway overhaul project will be completed by the end of 2019, by which time the travel time between Yilan and Hualien, which now takes about 2.5 hours, will be reduced to 80 minutes, according to the transport ministry.
The NT$49.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) improvement project involves the construction of tunnels and bridges to bypass the three most dangerous sections -- from Su'ao to Dong'ao, from Nan'ao in Yilan to Heping in Hualien, and from Hezhong to Daqingshui in Hualien.
Source: Fucus Taiwan