Dir. Gen. Kwon Byung-yoon of the Road Bureau at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) is seeking to introduce the next-generation Cooperative-ITS, designed to optimize road utilization and dramatically reduce traffic accidents by allowing real-time sharing of traffic flows, danger, and all other traffic information between vehicles and roads and between vehicle and vehicles. The following are excerpts of a written interview between NewsWorld and Dir. Gen. Kwon Byung-yoon of the MOLIT’s Road Bureau in which he spoke of his ministry’s major road policy tasks.
Question: Will you tell our readers about the new government’s new road policies?
Answer: In 2013, our ministry will attach policy priority to easing traffic bottlenecks in metropolitan city centers, improving road safety, making existing roads more efficient, and providing improved road services to the public.
Initially, we strive to solve traffic bottlenecks in downtown areas. The road policy paradigm that has so far focused on the expansion of national road networks will shift to the easing of traffic jams in downtown parts of major cities. Our ministry plans to implement the congestion mitigation measures tailored to the types of congestion and shift the policy focus on expanding facilities to improving road management for easing the traffic congestion with low cost.
Second, we’ll ensure a safer road environment. In an effort to prevent sleeping behind the wheel, 25 more rest shelters will be created along expressways and national highways, and 118 sections with high frequency of accidents and high vulnerability in structure will be intensively ameliorated. Furthermore, next-generation Intelligent Transport Systems (ITSs), or Cooperative ITSs (C-ITS) for enabling communication among vehicles, will be introduced to make road conditions safer.
Third, the utilization of the existing roads will be maximized. The purpose of the present roads is primed for travelling between districts and regions, but they will be transformed into spaces in which people can converge and enjoy. In this regard, logistics and transport transit centers will be installed on expressways to serve as the basis for each region’s culture, welfare, and logistics.
Lastly, public services in the road sector will be improved. We’ll strive to lower toll charges along private-invested expressways and to offer free access to road traffic information. Our ministry also plans to provide support to ensure more convenient and comfortable road use of the public by refurbishing scenic roads and expanding Hi-Pass interchanges.
Q: Will you elaborate on the scheduled dedication and ground-breaking of new expressways?
A: The Daeso-Chungju section 27.6km) of the Eumseong-Chungju Expressway, originally scheduled to be opened to traffic next year, will go into service this August in time for the 2013 World Rowing Championships, to be held at Chungju Lake from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. The project, launched in 2007, cost 950 billion won.
If the Chungju-Jecheon Expressway, which will link the Eumseong-Chungju Expressway, is dedicated by next year, it will be connected to the Pyeongtaek-Jecheon Line, one of the six east-west horizontal lines, complementing a network of central inland expressways.
The 19-km-long Hwado-Yangpyeong section of the projected 2nd Seoul Ring Road will break ground by year-end as a new project to mitigate traffic congestion in the Seoul metropolitan area. The Hwado-Yangpyeong portion will share the traffic burden on the Jungbu and 2nd Jungbu expressways, and it will also be connected to the Seoul-Chungcheon Expressway to serve as a trmain road connecting the south and east sides of the capital area.
The construction of the 12.7 km-long Seongseo-Jicheon section of the projected Daegu Ring Road that will circle the Daegu metropolitan area will begin in December.
The working design of the 43.6 km-long Milyang-Ulsan section of the projected Hamyang-Ulsan Expressway will be complete, and its ground-breaking ceremony will be held within this year. When it is dedicated, the expressway will likely shoulder traffic and freight loads off the congested Namhae Expressway.
Q: Will you explain plans to build intelligent transport system (ITS) infrastructure for the so-called smart roads?
A: Living up to recent environmental changes such as advanced ICT development and the spread of mobile gadgets, the establishment of smart road infrastructure for ensuring road efficiency and safety has emerged as one of the national key policy goals. In this regard, the MOLIT is installing and operating the ITS on its nationwide roads. We are also stepping on the gas to implement R&D projects to develop next-generation smart roads, including the “Smart Highway Project.”
The ITS network that made its debut in Korea in the late 1990s has so far stretched to 12,715 km in combined length— all expressways measuring 4,042 km, and 19 percent of national highways covering 2,566 km, and 9 percent of local government roads spanning 6.105 km.
We are seeking to introduce the next-generation Cooperative-ITS (C-ITS), designed to optimize road utilization and dramatically reduce traffic accidents by allowing real-time sharing of traffic flows, danger, and all other traffic information between vehicles and roads and between vehicle and vehicles, which upgrades the safety and efficiency of the existing ITS.
In order to develop related technologies, including V2I (vehicle-Infrastructure) communications, R&D activities have been active, including the Smart Highway Project. If they are verified, the latest technologies will be adopted in a phased manner starting from the expressway. In an effort to lay the institutional foundation for C-ITS, the MOLIT plans to draw up a master plan for the establishment of C-ITS and to launch a two-year pilot project in 2014.
Q: Will you specify the current status of the construction of inter-city roads in metropolitan cities and future project plans?
A: The construction of roads traversing metropolitan cities has had hard times on account of conflicting views between both local government bodies and their financial woes. The Act on the Traffic Management of Metropolitan City Areas was enacted in 1997 to address traffic demands of metropolitan city areas.
In accordance with the law, plans to deal with bottleneck sections involving two or more city and provincial governments have been established every five years (designating inter-city roads), and the concerned local governments are subsidized for half of total construction costs by the central government.
Initially, the MOLIT handled inter-city road projects designed to ease traffic congestion in the Seoul metropolitan area. An amendment, made on April 12, 2000, however, has allowed such road projects to be implemented in four more regions— Busan-Ulsan region, and the Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon metropolitan areas.
Looking at the progress of inter-city roads, the ministry designated 67 sections stretching 317.7 km in total during the period between 1999 and now. Out of the total, 31 sections, measuring 127.7 km in combined length, including the 92.4 km-long Cheonho Grand Bridge-Topyeong section, have been finished, greatly easing traffic bottlenecks.
Nineteen sections, totaling 98.1 km in length, including the Hwamyeong-Yangsan section, are under construction. Feasibility studies on another 17 sections, stretching 92.4 km, including the planned Gyeongju limit (boundary)-Ulsan Shindap Bridge section will be made on a step-by-step basis starting this year.
During this year, 132.2 billion won will be poured into the construction of 16 sections. Two sections, 5.9 km long, including the Gwangju-Hwasun section, will be dedicated within this year. The ministry will strive to promote the inter-city road projects for other sections so that they ca go into service on time.
Q: Will you comment on the current status and plans of implementing the national ITS standard?
A: The MOLIT is working out standards on shared information content and formats of information among ITS equipment to ensure compatibility and interoperability, and making efforts for the international standardization. Currently, the nation has eight national standards— five standards on transmitting and receiving information among systems for connection and integration of transportation information and three others on digital road networks and bus routes in place.
Standardization has been so far focused on the pending issues such as the integration and connection of transportation information. Therefore, the effort for standardization on equipment that the private sector has been demanding is insufficient, and the process of collecting public opinions needs to be upgraded. In this regard, the MOLIT plans to establish an action plan on the implementation of standardization every five years for effective implementation of standards on various ITS equipment. Furthermore, it will write the regulations on handling ITS standardization which define the installation of a committee in charge of studying and approving national ITS standards, and the procedure where private proposals for nation standards can be heard and processed.
Q: Will you speak about the private sector’s investments in the road sector?
A: Our ministry plans to carry out public-private partnership (PPP) projects on a step-by-step basis to construct major road networks and ease traffic congestions on inter-city roads during 2013. We’ll do our utmost to stabilize the operation of the 42.6 km-long Pyeongtaek-Shiheung PPP Expressway, which was opened to traffic this year, and ensure the timely dedication of seven PPP sections now under construction, including the 27.4 km-long Suwon-Gwangmyeong section.
The MOLIT is seeking to commercialize an integrated toll collection system of state-funded and PPP expressways by 2016 so as to relieve the inconveniences caused by motorists’ frequent stoppage at tollgates. We are also striving to enhance PPP roads’ services and strengthen the overseeing and supervising of PPP corporations by continuously carrying out evaluations to maximize the existing PPP roads’ efficiency, public satisfaction, and safety.