Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post Christmas Construction Industrial State Blues

Death lurks in the tall grass.
Death lurks in the tall grass.

On the heels of the defeat for the environment by the Miramar Hotel, the government is announcing a feasibility study for a highway between Hualien and Taitung to cut the travel time for the 180 km route by one hour. Lots of people passing this around on social networks, accompanied by expressions of disgust and dismay. It's obviously not for "local residents" (Taitung's population is declining over time and note below comments on highway use), but for the anticipated big busloads of Chinese tourists whose presence is an excuse for spraying ever more concrete around Taiwan's most beautiful areas as well as to better enable gravel and other firms to strip the area of its resources. Highway construction will also enable the KMT to feed and water its patronage networks on the East Coast. The TT writes:
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday said the ministry intended to budget NT$15 million (US$484,000) next year to conduct an assessment on building an expressway connecting Hualien and Taitung.
The government is electrifying the rail line between Hualien and Taitung, something discussed for years. The highway bureau also observed:
DGH Director General Wu Meng-feng (吳盟分) said highways 9 and 11 are the two main roads connecting Hualien and Taitung, and the travel time is between three and four hours.

He said that traffic on a normal weekday only usually accounts for about 20 percent of the highway’s designed capacity.
Yes, that's right. The government is talking about putting in four lanes of tarmac to replace two lanes that operate at only 20 percent of capacity outside Lunar New Year and a few other times. Just another example of my friend Jeff's pithy comment on Taiwan's construction-industrial state: "There's no place in Taiwan so beautiful it doesn't need more concrete."

See the east coast soon; development is going to destroy it.

UPDATE: Klaus has a vague map on his excellent post on the environment.
  • Mess Halls from the days when US servicemen and their families were posted here. Don't miss the post below with pics of the Grand Hotel from a half-century ago. 
  • Government moves forward on "free economic zones." These will be full service areas which will have special regulations for environment, land acquisition, labor, etc. Labor: once again the government is going to push to get more "foreign labor" in, reduce the minimum wage, and float suggestions that Taiwan import Chinese workers. 
  • AsiaEye with Under the Radar News
  • Reservoirs in Taiwan are sufficient through Feb.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


J said...

This is also ridiculous because they're upgrading the rail line at the same time. And if even that isn't enough, then adding a second track would probably suffice, and without having as large an impact on the environment as building more highway lanes.

Mike Fagan said...

On the reservoirs short - that's only for Taichung, not all of Taiwan.

Down here in the south, Wushantou reservoir is currently at 77% capacity and the water supply to the Chianan irrigation canal has been temporarily shut off.

I was also wrong about the desiltation of Tseng-wen reservoir; the WRA did not get most of the sediment out. I was there just over a week ago and the back end of the reservoir is full - maybe 10m-15m deep, and yet the reservoir is only at 56% capacity. There is ongoing work for removing the sediment and a plan for adding a new weir and culvert system for preventing future recurrence of the problem, but the budget has yet to be approved.

Liyutan reservoir is the only one in Miaoli I haven't seen yet.

les said...

Taidung and Hualien are so corrupt... no way you're going to keep the pigs away from the trough.

Klaus said...

I posted a map of what apparently is supposed to be the new route: Smack through the East Rift Valley.