New highways and byways continuously built to cut travel time and ease traffic jams on major expressways
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) said Korea’ s total length of highways across the country was extended by 105,931 km last year, up 0.3 percent compared to the previous year.
The total highway extension came to only 10 percent of that in Japan at 1,278,670 km and 2 percent of that in the United States at 6,545,839 km, the ministry said.
The ministry said the largest extension of highways came early in the 2000s, but the rate began to slide since then, while the paved highways rate continued to expand, coming to 80 percent of last year’ s total at 85,120 km, up 924 km from the previous year, with only 9,536 km of highways (9 percent) still unpaved.
Roads still not opened to traffic totaled 11,275 km, consisting mostly of unpaved country roads and others built by local autonomous organizations.
The extended highways included 3,913 km of national expressways, due mainly to the opening of the Wanju-Sunchon Highway, which brought the total length of highway extension to 53 km last year.
The length of the general national highways extended for 13,797 km, cut by 15 km due to readjustment and changes on those highways. The highways built and maintained by cities totaled 19,073 km and were extended by 194 km due to the opening of new byways and repair.
The regional highways totaled 18,196 km in length with 16 km extended last year and the municipal roads totaled 27,086 km, extended by 81 km due mainly to the transfer of county highways to the municipal control.
Officials of the ministry said by the end of the year all highway control will be made online with all information on highways including the new highways, maintenance, and extensions entered into computers providing for up-to-the-minute information on current highway situations across the country.
Korea Expressway Corp. will invest 70.5 billion won by 2014 to halve the heavy traffic jams on the nation’ s highways, the company said recently.
The highway company said it will build byways and crossroads to fix the sections where most of the traffic jams occur around the country. The company selected 51 sections of the highways with a total length of 373 km as problem spots.
The company has decided to expand the four lanes of the highway north of the Cheoan Interchange to five lanes because the section is heavily jammed every weekend with the side leading to Seoul to be fixed by the end of this year and the section heading to Busan to be expanded next year. When the highway sections are expanded, the side heading to Seoul will be speed up by 12 km per hour and those to Busan by 20 km per hour, the company said.
The Seoul-bound sections to be expanded include the Cheonan IC and Ansong IC for a total length of 20 km at a cost of 7.2 billion won. The Ansong Junction and Dongtan Junction, stretching for 15.9 km, will cost 5.5 billion won with both sections to be worked on this year. The Busan-bound sections include the Osan IC and Ansong Junction to be expanded at a cost of 4.5 billion won, and the Ansong IC and Cheonan Junction to be expanded at a cost of 9.1 billion won in 2013.
The heavy traffic jams in the Anson IC and West Pyeongtaek Junction should be reduced when the byway is built linking West Pyeongtaek Junction and the Ansan Junction, and the privately-funded Pyeongtaek and Shiheung Highway will open in 2013 on the West Coast Expressway.
On the Youngdong Expressway, the crossroad between North Suwon and East Suwon will be built next year and a byway on the section of Yooju and Munmak, Gyeonggi Province, will be built along with a byway on the Ansan and West Ansan Junction in 2014 to relieve bottlenecks in these areas.