A landslide occurred near Suhua Highway's Daqingshui Tunnel on Jan. 11, destroying rock sheds and sending large amounts of debris into the tunnel and cutting off bidirectional traffic. The Directorate General of Highways has already sent personnel to rush repairs and estimates the road won't reopen until Jan. 15.
After heavy rain, a landslide occurred on the 159.3-kilometer mark of the Suhua Highway at 11:55 p.m. on Jan. 11. The police set up barricades at the northern and southern ends of Daqingshui Tunnel to prevent entry. Some motorists waited around to see if the road would become accessible again, and some commented that the highway remains as dangerous as ever even after improvements.
Mr. Lu, Northbound Motorist: “It collapsed half an hour before I got here, and the police told me not to go so I've been waiting here. I'm the first one in line.”
Mr. Li, Northbound Motorist: “Have you noticed that in all of the main island of Taiwan, only Hualien and Taitung don't have expressways and freeways?”
The Directorate General of Highways launched a camera drone after daybreak to assess the damage. It discovered that the entire mountainside above the tunnel had collapsed, and estimated that 1,200 cubic meters of rocks destroyed 17 meters of the concrete rock shed and eight meters of the steel rock shed below. The repair work will be complicated by the narrowness of the road, so it won't be completed until 5 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the earliest. The tourism industry is closely monitoring the situation.
Yeh Chin-ching, Chairperson, Hualien Home Stay Association: “I hope this situation doesn't affect tourism over the Lunar New Year. We hope that relevant units can eliminate the obstruction as quickly as possible.”
Chang Chuan-han, Chairperson, Hualien Hotel Association: “Right now, less than 5 percent have canceled or postponed their reservations. However, we estimate that 20 to 30 percent will ultimately be affected.”
Suhua Highway is currently inaccessible, so people have to take the Central Cross-Island Highway or South Link Highway. Taiwan Railway will add 12 shuttle trains serving Yilan and Hualien to its daily schedule and also operate cargo trains to deliver produce to the north. The Maritime Port Bureau arranged for cargo ships to provide assistance.
Wu Chin-tien, Director, Hualien Depot, Taiwan Railway: “There are still about 1,400 seats available for northbound services today. We're more concerned right now about tour buses, as these tour group members may take the railway instead.”
Intercity bus companies posted announcements about the suspension of the service between Taipei's Nangang and Hualien City via National Freeway 5. The DGH has set up a command post at the site of the disaster and heavy machinery is arriving to help out with the repairs. There have been no reports of vehicles or people caught in the landslide.