Tuesday, February 09, 2016

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The demolition of the Taipei Zhongxiao Bridge ramp

2/09/2016 Taiwan Explorer

The Zhongxiao Bridge (忠孝橋) connecting central Taipei with Sanchong District was completed on May 1st, 1982 (construction begun in 1978). While the bridge itself is 518 m long, there's an equally long ramp stretching from the Tamsui River to Chongqing South Road, which is located between the old North Gate (a.k.a. Beimen) and the Taipei Main Station (source). The bridge was an important addition to the rapidly growing Taipei in the 1980s, however it was not really an architectural masterpiece. In fact, the ramp was built so close to the North Gate, it was almost touching it, and completely shadowing it from the north.

This is how close the Zhongxiao Bridge ramp was to the North Gate (photo from 2011).

It was one of the ugliest architectural mishaps in the city, and baffled a lot of locals, as well as foreign visitors. This is about to end these days, the Zhongxiao Bridge ramp is getting removed, and the area around it will be changed to a small public square.

From the City Government's website a few days ago:

Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction involving the dismantling of Zhongxiao Bridge Ramp and adjustment of road shape in the adjacent area on February 1.

During his address, he noted that the removal of the bridge signals the first step of the West District Gateway Project. What had been scheduled for completion in three months was reevaluated based on Taipei’s traffic conditions and the consequences of closing Zhongxiao West Road for prolonged period of time. Therefore, the city government decided to kick-off construction during the Chinese New Year, taking advantage of the period when traffic flow is relatively low.

Since I'm staying in Taipei during this holiday, I decided to head to the demolition area yesterday to take some photos and videos. You may first check out the video to get an idea of the atmosphere:

What was interesting, is that the city government created a viewing platform for spectators, anyone could go up there and have a look at the workers and the machines tearing down that old ramp. They even gave you a set of post cards and coasters related to the event, and to tourism in Taipei.

The coaster with a mischievous Mayor Ko, saying that blocking the street too long will make people crazy (and his polls will go down).

The viewing platform. People were writing messages on that wall.

It was early morning, there weren't many people watching the demolition.

This is how the area will look like afterwards. It will be more pedestrian friendly.

A view on the torn off ramp.

Working hard.

Lots of wires were exposed.

You can see the swallow roof of the old North Gate.

The Mayor wants to beautify the city for the 2017 Universiade.

Taipei's "Bridge to Nowhere" is about to become history.

A view on the North Gate from the eastern side.

A view from the southern side.

This area will be closed for traffic in the future, and I can't wait to see it.

I really like what Mayor Ko is trying to do here, and elsewhere in the city. I hope Taipei will become more pedestrian friendly and greener in the future, and that historic building will be preserved and made more visible to local and foreign tourists. So much damage has been done in the past, it can only get better. I will write a follow up post after the whole area is completely redone.

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