Monday, March 21, 2016

Hualien-Taitung Freeway Unlikely

The Directorate-General of Highways has announced the results of a study into building a freeway between Hualien and Taitung. Launched because of worries that the new Su-ao-Hualien highway will bring more cars into the east than the region's roads can handle, the study found that the current road system should in fact be adequate. It also found that the freeway would cost NT90 billion (US$2.8 billion, roughly US$17 million/km at 160km long) and take six years to complete.
Although the freeway likely won't be built, this is a good example of how driving infrastructure begets more driving infrastructure, with new freeways drawing in more drivers, who clog other connecting roads and drive calls for even more freeways. In this specific case, although Taiwan's east isn't especially dense, it's still very well suited to mass transit, with the vast majority of the population living within a few kilometers from the rail line (well, except in Taitung City...). Perhaps the best thing the government could do for mobility in the east at this point is rebuild the branch to Taitung, which after all is the most popular destination between Hualien City and Pingtung.


  1. By the way as you can see I also have a fascination with transport there are a few of us out there.

    I think this project is interesting having driven the existing Suao road recently, which is terrifying due to trucks and buses and bad overpassing at corners! A new freeway hopefully will improve the safety situation and time to get to Hualien.

    BUT! There are already serious traffic congestion at the Xueshan tunnel. How the hell are they going to deal with the traffic flow from Taipei and back again at busy periods?
    They will need to put an extra toll on the xueshan tunnel.

    What the East coast needs is another train line from west coast, there have been plans mooted but the new transport minister seems not to be in favour.
    Not sure why, as a train line seems to really be the only viable option to stop the East coast getting gridlocked completely at busy times.

    1. They're already upgrading the road between Su'ao and Hualien. The freeway I talk a bout here would have been from Hualien all the way down the East Rift Valley to Taidong.
      You are right though, the upgraded Su-Hua road will probably induce more driving and further clog the Xueshan tunnel, and a new highway south of Hualien would only make things worse. At this point the best plan might be making the Xueshan Tunnel bus only, as a new rail tunnel would be very expensive, and there aren't enough tracks on the TRA line in Taipei to handle additional traffic from Yilan.