Capital putting roads underground in four areas

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Capital putting roads underground in four areas

The local government announced on Tuesday that it plans to turn a 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) stretch of road on Olympic Daero from southern Yeongdong Bridge to Jamsil Sports Complex, as well as the two smaller roads connected to it that run along the Tancheon tributary in southern Seoul, into underground thoroughfares.

The declaration is just one of three plans the Seoul Metropolitan Government unveiled this month to remake surface roads into underground roads. In total, 65 kilometers of road in the capital city are being reviewed to serve as underground thoroughfares to boost local development and solve accessibility issues.

A plan to transform Seobu Arterial Road, which connects Geumcheon Interchange in northern Seoul and Seongsan Bridge in western Seoul, into an underground road in August was previously announced on March 11, while a proposal to move the 18.9-kilometer above-ground portion of subway line No. 2 underground was unveiled on March 3.

Currently, four sections of line No. 2 are set to be remodeled: the areas from Hanyang University to Jamsil Station; Sindorim Station to Sillim Station; Sindap Station to Seongsu Station; and Yeongdeungpo District Office to Hapjeong.

So far, the city government has released six underground road plans, which include a 17.2-kilometer section of the Dongbu Arterial Road in eastern Seoul; 7.6 kilometers of Gukhoe Daero next to the National Assembly, in western Seoul; and a 6.3-kilometer portion of the Gyeongbu Expressway, from Jamwon Interchange to the rest area in Seoul, which connects the southern part of the capital city to Busan.

Many surface roads in the city have been pinpointed as primary hindrances to local development. The above-ground section of subway line No. 2 and Seobu Arterial Road have also proven to be a headache for city drivers, who are forced to find other ways around those structures.

The construction of Lotte World Mall and Lotte World Tower had a particular influence on the city government’s decision. Last year, residents in Songpa District requested that officials turn a 1.12-kilometer stretch of Olympic Daero into an underground tunnel, citing that the expected increase in traffic would cause major noise problems.

The city government is pushing those plans in pursuit of a future urban model, and moving some of the city’s infrastructure underground is a key part of that.

According to the city government, a feasibility study will be conducted for the three roads included in Tuesday’s announcement.

It aims to look into traffic and safety issues as Hyundai Motor’s new headquarters and large-scale entertainment facilities are set to be established in the city-designated Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) zone in Jamsil, close to the three roads.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo, without a solution, traffic could be a heavy burden on operations in the MICE zone.

“It’s obvious that the amount of traffic will increase due to Lotte World Mall and Hyundai Motor’s new headquarters,” said an official from the city government. “We will plan a feasibility study and forecast traffic demand.”

In the absence of any issues, the city will go ahead with the plan.

However, there are still concerns surrounding the newly unveiled plans, as some of projects are set to be funded by private investors, and it is expected that vehicles passing through the new underpasses will be required to pay a toll fee to the new operators.

In the case of Seobu Arterial Road, for instance, the investor that conducts the project will operate the road for 30 years.

BY KANG KI-HEON [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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