With damage to roadway, drivers will suffer delays

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With damage to roadway, drivers will suffer delays

An elevated highway damaged by a fire on Monday will be reconstructed, but commuters will suffer until the work is completed in five or six months, the Korea Expressway Corporation said yesterday.

About 230,000 commuters use the highway daily, which connects Seoul to Incheon and Bucheon in Gyeonggi.

According to the Korea Expressway Corporation, the highway will be closed during construction and commuters will have to take a detour.

“We conducted an inspection and found that six out of eight lanes on the highway were severely damaged by the fire,” said officials of the Korean Society of Civil Engineers. “Given the scale of the damage, reconstruction is the only possibility.”

The Korea Expressway Corporation agreed with the assessment.

“A supporting beam was distorted and the bridge showed severe cracks due to heat,” said Jang Jae-ho, an official at the Korea Expressway Corporation. “It would take five or six months to demolish the bridge and build a new one.”

The fire broke out at 10:32 p.m. Monday under the highway. Police suspect that a 25-ton oil tanker, which was parked under the bridge, was the source of the fire.

Police said they have a witness who saw a man with his pants on fire running from the scene.

No one was reported to be injured in the fire, police said, but 1.3 billion won ($1.1 million) worth of damage was done to facilities and vehicles, including four container trucks, four tanker trucks, 15 large trucks, five smaller trucks, 13 cars and two unidentified vehicles.

Under current law, it’s illegal to park under highways and the fine is 3 million won, the Korea Expressway Corporation said yesterday.

The police station in Wonmi-dong, Bucheon, which is in charge of the case, said it will report the results of its investigation this afternoon, conducted in cooperation with fire authorities, the Korea Electrical Safety Corporation and the National Forensic Service.

As alternatives for the highway, the Korea Expressway Corporation said commuters heading from Pangyo to Ilsan should go through Anhyeon Junction and Siheung Tollgate, enter Siheung and then use the Gyeyang Interchange.

Drivers traveling from Ilsan to Pangyo are recommended to either take the Gyeyang Interchange and cross Jungdong Bridge to enter Songnae in Bucheon, or use the Siheung Interchange.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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