Taipei-The government's NT$52.88 billion (US$1.7 billion) project to improve the Suhua Highway along Taiwan's rugged east coast is expected to fully open next Jan. 5, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) said Tuesday.
"Construction is on schedule and the project will be finished as planned before the Lunar New Year to ease holiday traffic," said Suhua Improvement Engineering Office Director Shau How-jei (???).
The 38.8-km project covers three sections -- from Su'ao to Dong'ao in Yilan County, from Nan'ao in Yilan to Heping in Hualien County and from Hezhong to Daqingshui in Hualien -- with the first stretch having already opened Feb. 5 last year.
Construction of the other two sections is now 92 percent complete, a combined stretch of 29.1 km that includes five tunnels with a combined length of 20.7 km, Shau said.
The DGH is now in its final stage of testing related facilities, in particular, the stability of the electricity and engineering systems that will ensure tunnel safety, he said.
The improvements are expected to boost tourism in Yilan and Hualien counties, improve road safety and reduce travel times, according to the DGH.
The highway is the main artery connecting Yilan County and Hualien County, but the winding, narrow road perched above the Pacific Ocean is the scene of frequent accidents and is especially vulnerable to landslides.
Calls for an upgrade gained urgency in 2010 after torrential rain brought by Typhoon Megi triggered lethal landslides on the road, killing 26 people.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel