Large tunnel collapse along Suhua Highway still under repair

Despite recent tunnel collapse in Oct., officials hope 5 years of construction Suhua Highway will wrap up before 2019

Relentless rains collapsed the Gu-feng Tunnel ceiling.

Relentless rains collapsed the Gu-feng Tunnel ceiling. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Large sections of the Gu-feng Tunnel roof collapsed (谷風隧道) in October and repairs are now estimated to finish in eight months, reports CNA.

Over 10,000 cubic meters (353,000 cubic feet) of rock collapsed.

The Department of Transportation (交通部) confirmed that the Tunnel is scheduled to reopen before the Spring Festival.

Traffic waiting to pass through the tunnel. (Photo: 省道即時交通資訊網)

The tunnel's renovation is part of a larger renovation effort along the Suhua Highway (蘇花公路). The construction effort is divided into three segments along the highway: from Yilan – Suao to Dongao (冬奧), Nanao to Hualien – Heping (和平), and Hetung (河中) to Da Chingshui (大清水).

The most recent phases of major construction along the highway are in Suao – Yilan. Repair teams are staggering access onto the highway, allowing vehicles to enter only once every two hours from now until December 22.

Dongao Tunnel construciton. (Photo: 省道即時交通資訊網)

Construction along the Suhao Highway has persisted for five consecutive years. The entirety of roadwork is now estimated to be completed by the end of 2018.

The director of the highway construction project, Shao Hou-chieh (邵厚潔), said that after the tunnel collapsed on October 20, the tunnel walls were in a very unstable condition for some time though fortunately no one was injured in the incident.

Experts explain that the tunnel collapse was caused by days of continuous heavy rain preceding the accident. The weight of the rain caused the waterways running between the rocks in the tunnel ceiling to change course, increasing the pressure between the ceiling and the groundwater. The mounting pressure led water to eventually burst through, causing the collapse.

Presently both ends of the tunnel are connected, though there are still large amounts of damage inside.

Shao said that even though all of the tunnels along the Suhua Highway have experienced collapse, over 200 total incidents, the management team responds rapidly and the damage is quickly addressed. The department treats these incidents as urgent matters to keep traffic delays are as minimal as possible.