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Taiwan to impose traffic controls after entire Southern Cross-Island Highway reopens

Only cars and motorcycles will be allowed to enter section between Tianchi and Xiangyang from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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(DGH photo)

(DGH photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The last stretch of the Southern Cross-Island Highway in southern Taiwan that is still closed for repair will open at the end of April, but traffic control measures will be put in place to ensure safety and decrease the impact on wildlife.

A large portion of the highway, the mountainous section of Provincial Highway 20, was closed after August 2009 when it suffered extensive damage during Typhoon Morakot. After nearly 13 years of repair, the entire highway, except for the 20-kilometer stretch between Tianchi and Xiangyang that is still under repair, is open again, CNA reported.

However, traffic control is being enforced on the section between Meishan and Tianchi, allowing only regular cars and motorcycles to enter from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., while buses and bicycles are barred. The Directorate General of Highways (DGH) told CNA that it also plans to allow only cars and motorcycles to enter the section between Tianchi and Xiangyang from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. after the section reopens at the end of April.

When the entire Southern Cross-Island Highway is open, the traffic control time on the Meishan-Tianchi section will be adjusted to match that of the section between Tianchi and Xiangyang, the DGH said.

The highway authority told CNA that there are two reasons for imposing the traffic control measures: to ensure safety, as it often rains in the mountains during the afternoon, and to decrease the impact of traffic on wild animals endemic to the area, such as monkeys, Swinhoe's pheasants, and Formosan yellow-throated martens.