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Yilan County: Complete geological data of Suhua highway ready for review: MOTC

Yilan County: Complete geological data of Suhua highway ready for review: MOTC

The minister of transport said today that the authorities will present comprehensive geological data on the Suhua Highway to the panel responsible for an environmental impact assessment for a highway improvement project, as the data is crucial to getting a green light to start construction.

Mao Chi-kuo said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has gathered complete geological information about the road dating back to the 1970s, when the Taiwan Railway Administration's North-Link Line was built near the accident-prone Suhua highway in northeastern Taiwan.

He expressed hope that the data will accelerate a consensus among the panelists, who approved the assessment in a preliminary review procedure with conditions and asked for more detailed information about the environmental impact to the area should the upgrading work begin.

"We've realized that the debate over whether the government should build a separate Suhua freeway has only resulted in a zero-sum game, " said Mao. "We hope our information can clear up the remaining concerns of the committee and that it will approve the improvement project."

The government has proposed upgrading the most dangerous stretch of the highway by reinforcing the existing road or bypassing it with tunnels and bridges.

Mao pointed out that the MOTC has compared geological data taken from 275 drillings during the past 30 years and 27 recent drillings to make sure the soil and water conditions are adequate to support the construction.

A new review committee was scheduled to be convened within two days at the earliest to decide whether the project should be given a final go-ahead.

Mao reiterated that if the environmental impact assessment makes its way through the review committee by the end of the year, construction is expected to be completed by 2016. (