Highway reopened after fire, one month early

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Highway reopened after fire, one month early

The outer beltway highway around Seoul, which was closed after a fire damaged a section of the highway on Dec. 13, reopened Tuesday morning, a month earlier than scheduled.

The section of the beltway between Bucheon and Jung-dong, stretching 73 meters (239 feet), caught fire due to an illegal fueling operation taking place in a parking lot under the highway. 39 vehicles were set ablaze in the fire; there were no injuries in the incident.

A 31-year-old man surnamed Song was suspected of starting the fire while he was illegally refilling his oil tanker from an oil storage tank at the parking lot. The police in January arrested five men, including Song.

Doosan Construction, which was in charge of the reconstruction, said on Tuesday that it used a precast concrete construction method, allowing them to finish the work early.

The precast method decreases the curing period of concrete by casting concrete pieces in advance in a reusable mold in a location away from the construction site. The pieces are then transported to the site and lifted into place.

The reconstruction cost 15 billion won ($13 million), according to authorities.

The expenses will be covered by the Korea Expressway Corporation. But litigation is expected over who will be responsible for the repairs.

By Yim Seung-hye [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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