Suhua Highway improvement completion delayed until 2019
The government confirmed yesterday that the improvement project for Suhua Highway ( ) would be delayed until 2019.
The project to widen the highway, originally slated for completion in 2017, has been beset by a series of delays including landslides and archeological discoveries. More recently, landslides triggered by Typhoon Dujuan impeded the long anticipated road improvement project.
Directorate General of Highways Chao Hsin-hua ( ) confirmed the delay at the Legislative Yuan, saying that the relocation of archeological relics at Hanben continued to cause delays and would push back the launch date of the 20-kilometer section from Nanao to Heping.
Another 9.1-kilometer stretch from Hezhong to Daqingshui would also be delayed for various reasons.
Chao stated that a 9.7-kilometer stretch of the improvement project from Suao to Dongao, originally slated for completion in March or April 2017, would be completed as scheduled.
In July, archeologists discovered several intact dwellings as well as human remains dating back 2,000 years covering 300 meters of the project.
County Magistrate Demands Tax Cuts
Angered by news of the delay, Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kunchi ( ) demanded tax cuts from the central government due to “administrative inefficiency” on the road improvement project. Fu said that the county commissioned a report from a European agency in 2011 that concluded that the project could be completed by 2014. He said that the delayed construction has been making life inconvenient for local residents, and that the central government’s problems in construction and supervision of the project were culprits that have hampering the project.
Fu added that the Executive Yuan should consider tax cuts for both Hualien and Taitung counties, and provide specific subsidies for the aviation and marine transport sectors in order to compensate for financial losses incurred by the delay in the highway’s completion.
The NT$46.5 billion, 38.8-kilometer Suhua Highway improvement project was started in 2011 after years of planning and has faced criticism from environmentalists who argue that the project would increase traffic and pollution in Taiwan’s least-populated region. Area locals cite the improvements as being critical to road safety since the route is traditionally prone to landslides due to its positioning along mountain cliffs. Sections of the highway are often sealed off during typhoons and periods of torrential rain.
The improvement includes several key bridges and mountain tunnels, including sections from Suao to Dongao, Nanao to Heping, and Heping to Daqingshui.
A woman holds a set of the Taroko National Park commemorative coins in Taipei, yesterday. The Central Bank has commissioned the Bank of Taiwan to issue 35,000 sets of the commemorative coins slated to be sold starting Oct. 15.