Gyeongbu Expressway, Now 50 Years, Looks for ‘100 Years of Hope’
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Gyeongbu Expressway, Now 50 Years, Looks for ‘100 Years of Hope’
‘Govt. to build eco-friendly, digital roads’

23(Thu), Jul, 2020

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun delivers his commemorative speech at 50th Road Day anniversary event. (Photos: MOLIT)

Prime Minister Chung Sye-gyun said the government will develop underground expressways, returning ground area to nature.

Chung did not give details, however. He made the remarks at his commemorative speech at a ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Gyeongbu (Seoul-Busan) Expressway opening on July 7.

“Eco-friendly roads that will gather fine dust and automatically treat greenhouse gases will be built,” Prime Minister Chung said.

The government will implement the construction of energy-friendly roads, which automatically charge EVs on the run by employing advanced IT technologies, he added.

Chung said, “The birth of the Gyeongbu Expressway was made miraculously 50 years ago when to a nation with $258 in per capital income it was imaginable, and there were plentiful of public opposition.”

“The Gyeongbu Line, looking forward for the future, made traveling between Seoul and Busan a one-day life zone and it became Korea’s economic growth symbol,” he said.

The economic value of the expressway network for the past 50 years is analyzed to stand at about 120 trillion won per annum, Chung said.

Prime Minister Chung called for the ultimate goal, from “speed to value.” As the nation built a vast network of roads over the past 50 years, he said it will have to focus on building “the right roads” in the next 100 years.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Korea Road Association jointly held the 2020 Road Day ceremony on July 7 at The-K Hotel in Seocho-gu, Seoul.

It took place under the catchphrase “50 Years of Miracles, 100 Years of Hope.”

The government designated July 7, 1970 as the first national Road Day, with the Seoul-Busan Expressway officially opening.

The goal was to encourage people, including engineers working on highway construction and related areas, to spur the construction of highways in Korea. Since then, a ceremony took place every year to commemorate the day.

The anniversary event was held in accordance with the government quarantine guidelines designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Dignitaries, including Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, Chairman Kim Jin-sook of the Korea Road Association, 2nd Vice Minister Sohn Myung-soo of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Hyundai E&C Vice Chairman Chung Jin-haeng, attend the 50th Road Day anniversary event.

Among about 250 people on hand at the event were Prime Minister Chung, 2nd Vice Minister Sohn Myung-soo of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, President Kim Jin-sook of Korea Expressway Corp., concurrently chairperson of the Korea Road Association, and Hyundai E&C Vice Chairman Chung Jin-haeng.

Seventy-seven people were honored with orders, medals and government prizes in recognition of their contribution to the development of the Korean road and transportation industries.

The coveted Order of Industrial Service Merit, Bronze went to Park Suk-joo, senior advisor of Dongsung Engineering Co. He has been credited with his participation in the design of 20 expressways, including the 2nd Yeongdong Expressway, and about 60 state and provincial roads.

Director General Joo Hyun-jong in charge of road at MOLIT said, “The construction of digital roads, a combination of road and ICT will spearhead the 4th Industrial Revolution, job creation and economic leap forward.”

The opening of the Gyeongbu Expressway contributed to the nation’s achieving high-speed economic growth by connecting the Seoul metropolitan area and industry and export zones.

It has shifted the transportation paradigm from railways to roads and it has led to speedy and large volumes of freight transportation. It has also contributed to changing the nation’s industrial structure from light industries to heavy industries for export-oriented modernization of the national economy.

The total length of expressway and general state road networks surged from 551 km and 8,121 km in 1970 to 4,767 km and 13,983 km in 2018, respectively.

The nation’s nominal GDP jumped from $9 billion in 1970 to $1.619.4 trillion in 2018 while the per capital income soared from $280 to $30,600 during the same period.

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