Underpass renovation to precede elevated park

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Underpass renovation to precede elevated park

An underpass near Seoul Station in central Seoul is set to be remodeled starting this month as part of a city government project to turn the overpass next to the station into an elevated park, similar to the High Line Park in New York City.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Tuesday that it will shut down the two southbound lanes of Uijuro Underpass in central Seoul on April 25, and fill them to construct additional surface-level lanes.

“Construction is expected to finish at the end of August,” confirmed Kwon Hyeok-dae, chief of the city government’s Tunnel Building Division.

The 41-year-old underpass, which stretches 250 meters (820 feet) northeast of Seoul Station, has two northbound and two southbound lanes. There are also two more surface lanes on each side of the underpass. The construction will fill up the southbound lanes, increasing the number of southbound surface lanes from two to five, which the government explained would ease traffic congestion and decrease the risk of car accidents.

The underpass’s two northbound lanes will remain unchanged.

The plans are part of initial measures to build an elevated park on the overpass that goes across Seoul Station, one of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s prioritized projects. Its construction is set to begin in October.

Chilpae-ro, the road that stretches across Uijuro Underpass will serve as an alternative route for those traveling to the other side of Seoul Station.

Right now the project’s biggest dilemma is traffic, while merchants from Namdaemun Market and workers employed in factories west of the station have called for the construction of a new road that will replace the overpass.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has stated that building an alternative road is in its long-term plan, though it has yet to lay out details.

“Development on the area north of Seoul Station will resume later with private capital,” a city government official said. “We will do our best to minimize the inconvenience by creating appropriate detours.”

BY KIM BONG-MOON, KANG KI-HEON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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