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Old April 14th, 2013, 06:50 AM   #321
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The Agora Garden Residential Tower looks great, though I'm wondering how the trees, plants, shrubs, etc. will be maintained. Another thing would be the bugs and/or animals you may have to deal with.

Still, it's beautiful looking.
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Old April 22nd, 2013, 11:13 AM   #322
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No changes to Taipei MRT transfer stations: mayor
Taipei Times
Fri, Apr 19, 2013

The Taipei MRT transport system’s Xindian and Tamsui lines will not have routes or transfer stations altered once the Xinyi Line launches at the end of this year, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday, stressing the city government’s commitment to minimizing inconvenience for passengers.

The 6.4km Xinyi Line, the city’s second east-west route after the Bannan Line, is set to include seven stations: Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Dongmen, Daan Park, Daan Station, Xinyi Anhe, Taipei 101/World Trade Center, and Elephant Mountain.

Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems initially planned to use Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station as a transfer station for the Xindian line, but decided to keep the originally-planned route between Xindian and Tamsui with a transfer stop at MRT Taipei Main Station.

The Xinyi Line will integrate with the Tamsui Line, and allow passengers to travel directly between Beitou Station and Elephant Mountain Station in about 35 minutes. Travel time between Taipei Main Station and Taipei 101 Mall is estimated to be about 11 minutes once the line is opened.

The department further extended the MRT route between Taipower Building Station and Ximen Station to connect the Xindian and Xiaonanmen lines.

“We will maintain the existing routes of the Xindian Line and Tamsui Line for the convenience of passengers, aiding the smooth operation of the MRT,” Hau said at Taipei City Hall.

Department Commissioner Tsai Hui-sheng (蔡輝昇) said the six-minute train intervals on MRT lines will remain unchanged after the Xinyi Line is launched. The new line is expected to ease the flow of passengers on the Nankang Line by about 11 percent, and reduce passenger flow at MRT Taipei Main Station by about 19 percent.

The decision to keep the transfer station for the Xindian Line unchanged is believed to be aimed at preventing similar complaints from passengers as those made after the launch of Dongmen Station on the Luzhou Line last year.

Guting Station replacing Taipei Main Station as the new transfer station for passengers from Zhonghe (中和) heading to Taipei Railway Station and destinations along the Tamsui Line drew complaints from passengers on the Zhonghe Line.

Taipei Rapid Transit Corp general manager Tan Gwa-guang (譚國光) declined to confirm whether the transfer station for the Xindian Line will be changed to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station once the Songshan Line is launched next year, but said more route adjustments will be necessary as the city continues to expand its transport network.
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Old April 24th, 2013, 07:22 PM   #323
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Thu, Apr 25, 2013
Twin Towers corruption probe begins
BAD START : The credibility of the task force investigating the project came under fire as KMT councilors withdrew from the probe for accepting donations from a bidder
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Council task force charged with investigating the Taipei Twin Towers project held its first meeting yesterday amid concerns about the credibility of task force members who accepted political donations from the project’s second-priority bidder. It reached a consensus to complete the investigation by June.

The task force is comprised of cross-party Taipei City councilors and is to probe the project’s controversial bidding process, as well as any possible wrongdoing by city officials in relation to the project, amid allegations of bribery.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City councilors Lee Shin (李新), Angela Ying (應曉薇) and Wang Hsin-yi (王欣儀) withdrew from the task force for having accepted political donations from the second-priority bidder, BSE Engineering Co. However, KMT Taipei City Councilor Yang Shih-chiu (楊實秋) refused to leave the task force, drawing criticism from independent Taipei City Councilor Chen Cheng-chung (陳政忠) as he accused the KMT caucus of lacking the credibility to take part in the probe.

“Allowing councilors who have accepted political donations from a bidder to be in the task force shows that the KMT caucus is carrying out a perfunctory probe into the matter and I don’t want to be part of such a team,” he said during the meeting, before leaving the room in protest.

Yang insisted that the investigation is targeting the project’s first bidder, Taipei Gateway International Development, and whether he accepted political donations from the second-priority bidder should not be an issue.

The construction project has been indefinitely stalled after the city government’s cooperation with a multinational consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development collapsed and led to a probe into bribery allegations in the bidding process.

Prosecutors have taken KMT Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) into custody over her alleged deal with the developer to help it secure the bid in exchange for a NT$10 million (US$336 million) bribe, and listed Taipei City Finance Department Commissioner Chiu Da-chan (邱大展) as a defendant.

The city government’s planned negotiation with BES Engineering Corp for a contract has also been stalled due to the ongoing probe into the project’s bidding process.

New Party Taipei City Councilor Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯), who is heading the task force, said it would ask Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to clarify the city’s handling of the project, and will look into the role played by Chiu and city officials in Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems.

The task force will complete its probe and present an investigation report by June, he said.
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Old April 27th, 2013, 08:29 PM   #324
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Sun, Apr 28, 2013
Taipei insists Wenlin Yuan renewal project still legal
FORCED DEMOLITION : The city government said that a constitutional interpretation found only part of the Urban Renewal Act to be a violation of the constitution
Taipei Times



The latest constitutional interpretation of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例), which ruled that part of the act violated the Constitution, will not affect negotiations on the stalled Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban renewal project in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林), the Taipei City Government said yesterday, insisting it is legitimate.

The Council of Grand Justices on Friday handed down Interpretation No. 709, finding that some of the articles in the act does not guarantee individuals involved in cases have access to relevant information and the opportunity to voice their opinions. It also said the act failed to demand that authorities deliver relevant information to all legal property owners involved in cases, or demand that a public hearing be held where all parties involved can state their opinions.

As to the Wenlin Yuan project, the grand justices denied a request to review the legality of the Taipei City Government’s forced demolition of the Wang (王) family’s houses to facilitate the construction, as the case is still being heard at the Taipei High Administrative Court.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday cited the interpretation to defend the legality of the demolition, and said negotiations with the Wang family, 36 households taking part in the project and the project developer would proceed.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), who is leading the negotiations, said the developer of the Wenlin Yuan project has completed the urban renewal process, and the city government will focus its efforts on negotiations to solve the disputes over the project.

“Only part of the act violated the Constitution, and the grand justices did not find our handling of the Wenlin Yuan project illegal … We expect the negotiation to resolve controversies over the project,” he said.

The city government held its first meeting with the three parties earlier this month and will continue to discuss related issues. The Wang family’s previous insistence that their houses be rebuilt on the original site is one of the proposed solutions, and discussions on other solutions will continue without a timetable, he said.

Members of the Wang family yesterday accused the city government of distorting the constitutional interpretation and evading responsibility, insisting that the forced demolition of their houses last year was illegal.

“The constitutional interpretation questioned the urban renewal process, and that applies to the city government’s handling of the Wenlin Yuan project. It’s nonsense to say that the demolition was legal,” said Wang Kuan-shu (王廣樹), a family member.

However, representatives of the 36 households voiced support for the city government’s handling of the case.

Hsieh Chun-chiao (謝春嬌), a spokesperson for the households, said that the developer had followed regulations by obtaining approval from more than 70 percent of the households and sending relevant information to all the households, and that the city government had the authority to facilitate the project.

Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office Director Lin Chung-chieh (林崇傑) said the interpretation, which requires the authorities to hold public hearings with households and send a finalized version of all the pros and cons of the project to all concerned parties, would affect about 400 urban renewal applications. The city government will meet with the Ministry of the Interior to discuss the cases.
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Old May 9th, 2013, 07:21 AM   #325
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Thu, May 09, 2013
HSR boss quits over Airport Rail delays
RUNNING LATE : Instead of being launched in October, the Airport Rail will now only become operational at the end of 2015, the Bureau of High Speed Rail said
Taipei Times

Bureau of High Speed Rail Director-General Chu Shu (朱旭) yesterday resigned from his position after assuming responsibility for delays in the launch of the Airport Rail line between Taipei Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei.

Chu told a press conference that the bureau aimed to have the section between Sanchong (三重) and Jhongli (中壢) operational by the end of 2015.

Immediately after the press conference, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) issued a press release stating that MOTC Minister Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) had accepted Chu’s resignation.

The ministry said Chu had also applied for early retirement, which would take effect next month.

MOTC Deputy Minister Jack Hsu (許俊逸) has been assigned to oversee the operation of the bureau while the bureau’s deputy director-general Allen Hu (胡湘麟) will temporarily assume Chu’s position, the ministry said.

Chu said the bureau had originally planned to launch the Airport Rail in October. However, it estimated that construction might not meet the approved deadline due to disputes between Marubeni Corp, the contractor in charge of building the railway’s signaling system, and its subcontractor, London-based control and safety system manufacturer Invensys.

The bureau also ordered the complete replacement of electrical wires used in the signaling system after some were found to have cracks in their insulation.

Currently, 97.17 percent of the civil engineering construction of the Airport Rail has been completed. About 56 percent of the signaling system is complete.

Asked why it would take another two-and-a-half years to launch the Airport Rail, Chu said the contractor should finish installation of the signaling system by the end of this year or the beginning of next year. He said that the bureau would use next year to test the Airport Rail, adding that the signaling system and 13 other systems involved must be fully integrated to fulfill the requirements stated in the contract.

Taoyuan Metro Corp has been assigned to take over the line’s operation once the Airport Rail is completed and Chu said that the company would need time to prepare for the takeover. The company also needs to pass the final safety inspection by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications before it can start running services, he said.

Asked if the bureau would postpone the deadline again, Chu said that he could not make any promises.

“We can only strive to fulfill the mission,” he said.

According to Chu, the signaling system is being jointly constructed by Marubeni, Kawasaki and Hitachi. If Marubeni drops out, the other two contractors would take over, he said.

Marubeni reached an agreement with Invensys in March to continue the construction, he added.

Meanwhile, the bureau will fine Marubeni for violating the terms of its contract by failing to meet the deadline, with the contractor being asked to pay about NT$12 million (US$400,000) daily for each day it exceeds the deadline by. The penalty is capped at NT$2.5 billion. However, the bureau could seek further restitution from Marubeni for financial losses caused by the delayed launch of the Airport Rail.

The Japanese contractor could also face suspension of the right to bid for public constructions in Taiwan for one year, if the Public Construction Commission rules that it has committed a serious violation.

Chu said the bureau would continue to monitor progress by the contractor, which has submitted a plan to speed up construction of the signaling system. Should the bureau deem that the contractor has been ineffective in executing its plan to speed up construction, Chu said the contract with Marubeni could be terminated.

Chu said that the bureau did not know that Marubeni had violated the terms of the contract by outsourcing the signaling system to Invensys until the bureau received a letter from the subcontractor admitting that it was building the signaling system.

Marubeni also had disputes with another subcontractor for the railway construction in 2010. The subcontractor withheld the design plan for the railway construction and did not hand it over until it was ordered by a court to do so.
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Old May 13th, 2013, 09:34 AM   #326
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Huaguang residents protest outside Taipei City Hall
RESIDENTS’ PLEA:The residents urged the Taipei mayor to suspend demolition work scheduled for Friday next week and assist them in finding permanent homes
Taipei Times
Sat, May 11, 2013

Aerial photos : http://gis.rchss.sinica.edu.tw/mapda...021&lang=zh-tw

A dozen residents of Taipei’s Huaguang Community (華光社區) and their supporters demonstrated outside Taipei City Hall yesterday, asking Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to defend freedom of residence and offer a long-term relocation plan to help them resettle.

The crowd shouted: “Taipei City Government toughen up. Don’t let Huaguang Community fall down,” after the Taipei City Government’s Cultural Heritage Evaluation Committee decided earlier this month to conduct an assessment on the cultural and historical value of the community.

They urged the city government to ask the Ministry of Justice to suspend the demolition of the part of the community on Aiko E Road scheduled for Friday next week.

“Huaguang Community is a historical community with rich cultural resources and history. The city government should exercise its authority to protect local residents’ rights and preserve the community,” residents’ representative Cheng Wei-hui (鄭偉慧) said.

The residents also complained about the city’s short-term relocation plan, urging Hau and his team to find permanent residences for them.

National Taiwan University urban redevelopment professor Kang Min-jay (康旻杰) said the city government should demand that the central government build public housing on the site and take care of the original residents.

Located near Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Huaguang Community is a neighborhood of about 60 households, of mostly low-ranking former soldiers who fled the Chinese Civil War with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regime in 1949 and their descendants.

Last year, the Executive Yuan approved plans to remodel the area into a “second Roppongi district” — a district in Tokyo famed for its nightclubs — and officials began measuring all the buildings in the designated area in November last year.

In response, Lo Shi-yu (羅世譽), a division chief at the Taipei City Government’s Department of Urban Development, said the city government is offering public housing units at three public housing projects to the residents.

The residents can rent the units for two months at half the price of the normal monthly rent.
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Old May 29th, 2013, 10:39 AM   #327
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Wed, May 29, 2013
Court extends Lai Su-ju’s detention over Twin Towers
Taipei Times

The Taipei District Court yesterday granted the prosecutors’ request to detain Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lai Su-ju (賴素如) for another two months.

Lai, a confidante of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), stands accused of taking bribes related to the Taipei Twin Towers project.

She was first detained on March 30 and will now be detained for another two months starting tomorrow, the court said yesterday.

The court ruled that there was a risk that Lai would collude with others to change their testimony if she was not in detention and able to communicate with them.

A consortium led by Taipei Gateway International Development Co (太極雙星) won the tender in October last year with a NT$70 billion (US$2.34 billion) bid.

However, it lost the rights to the project in February, when it failed to put up a performance bond by the required deadline.

Prosecutors allege that Lai struck a deal with the consortium to receive a NT$10 million bribe in three installments — NT$1 million as a down payment, NT$3 million after Taipei Gateway International Development had signed the contract with the Taipei City Government to build the Twin Towers and NT$6 million once construction had started.

Lai has admitted to taking a NT$1 million payment, but said she considered it to be a “political donation.”

She said she returned the money after realizing that it had come from the consortium.

Lai, a lawyer who served as director of the KMT chairman’s office for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), had her KMT membership suspended.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 06:06 PM   #328
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Wed, Jun 12, 2013
Taipei to inspect buildings’ ‘health’
HEALTHY HOUSES : The city government is planning to spend NT$4m surveying apartment buildings that are more than 30 years old to promote urban renewal
Taipei Times

The Taipei City Government will launch a home inspection program next year to identify apartments that are 30 or more years old and in need of maintenance or reconstruction work as part of its bid to promote urban renewal.

The initiative, dubbed the “Old House Health Exam,” will begin in January next year and survey the general structure, fire safety measures and exterior walls of 200 apartment buildings.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said the inspections were also aimed to address safety concerns in old buildings and the results would serve as a reference for determining which properties need maintenance, renovation or renewal work.

“The ‘health’ of a building, like a person’s, needs to be examined on a regular basis. Through the initiative we want to establish a standard home inspection mechanism and encourage homeowners to conduct regular inspections on their residences,” he said at Taipei City Hall.

According to the Department of Urban Redevelopment, about 70 percent of Taipei’s more than 90,000 buildings are more than 30 years old. Safety inspections cost NT$20,000 per apartment, so the city government will budget NT$4 million (US$134,000) next year to implement the program.

Department Commissioner Ben Tai-ming (邊泰明) said privately owned apartment buildings that are at least 30 years old and at least three stories high will be eligible for the inspection program. However, apartment buildings that are participating in urban renewal projects will be excluded from the program.

Hau touted the inspection program as the city’s latest effort to improve the condition of older buildings and provide more information on proprty conditions for homeowners. He added that the city would not make the inspection results public to protect property owners’ privacy.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚), a real-estate expert, dismissed concerns about keeping the results private and insisted that the initiative would ultimately make property conditions more transparent and could help prevent disputes in housing transactions.

“Conducting property inspection is the first step toward building a healthy housing market. Eventually, we want to apply the inspection mechanism to buildings of all ages to offer open and transparent information on properties’ conditions,” he said.

The department will conduct the inspections along with construction associations. After obtaining the inspection results, property owners are encouraged to seek follow-up assistance from the Taipei Urban Renewal Promotion Center or private construction agencies, he said.
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Old June 14th, 2013, 11:42 AM   #329
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Taipei Times
Mon, Jun 10, 2013
TRA seeks compensation over collapsed crosswalk
SAFETY CONCERNS:After the collapse of a pedestrian crosswalk, Keelung has come under scrutiny with 47 of the city’s 182 bridges requiring immediate repair

The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) yesterday said that it is seeking damages from the Keelung City Government for the collapse of a pedestrian skywalk crossing which disrupted train services on Saturday.

The collapsing skywalk broke electric cabling, forcing the TRA to operate two-way services using a single track in the section between Keelung and Cidu (七堵) for the entire day.

According to the railroad, the incident delayed 55 train services and affected approximately 9,800 passengers.

A 22-year-old woman surnamed Chan (詹) also suffered concussion and temporary amnesia after falling from the bridge.

“The incident was caused by the collapse of a pedestrian skywalk crossing, which is maintained and managed by the Keelung City Government,” the railroad said in a statement.

“Therefore, the TRA will seek compensation for damage to equipment and the impact on train operations [from the city],” it added.

However, passengers would not be able to seek compensation or ticket refunds because the TRA was not responsible for the cause of the incident, the railroad said, adding that it was also a victim of the incident.

The collapse of the pedestrian crossing has brought the quality of bridges in Keelung under scrutiny.

According to the city’s Department of Public Works, the city has 182 bridges. Forty-seven of them have been placed on a priority list for immediate repair as they may be cause for safety concerns.

The city budgeted NT$10 million (US$336,000) three years ago for such repairs.

However, the collapsed skywalk crossing is not on the list.

A nationwide bridge maintenance survey carried out by the Institute of Transportation, a think tank under the Ministry of Transportation, listed Keelung under the category of requiring “immediate improvement.”

Although maintenance work was needed on 152 bridges in the city last year, none of it is yet complete.

Keelung Mayor Chang Tong-rong (張通榮) said that the overpass that fell was considered an old bridge, but not a dangerous one.

“We recently checked the bridge and we do not know why [the collapse] occurred following the earthquake,” Chang said. “The deck of the bridge was still intact.”

Chang said he hopes that the central government can provide funding to rebuild the pedestrian skywalk as well as to relocate the railway station.

The city government has decided to build a makeshift steel bridge for pedestrians after the collapse. In the meantime, it installed barriers to create a temporary passage for pedestrians on a motor-vehicle overpass next to the collapsed crossing.
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Old June 26th, 2013, 01:14 PM   #330
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Xinyi

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繁華.信義.夜倒映 by 阿 ken Huang, on Flickr
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Old July 3rd, 2013, 04:59 AM   #331
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Taipei Times
Sun, Jun 30, 2013
Xinzhuang Line’s last stations open
END OF LINE : Protesters said at the launch ceremony that the authorities were trying to fool people when they said the Losheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium must be torn down

Operation of the last two stations of the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Xinzhuang Line were launched yesterday amid a small protest by supporters of the Lo-sheng (Happy Life) Sanatorium, renewing concerns about the safety of the line and preservation of the sanatorium.

The Danfeng and Huilong MRT stations were the only two stations that remained closed when the Xinzhuang Line opened in 2010. Taipei City’s Department of Rapid Transit Systems at the time insisted on demolishing the sanatorium to facilitate construction of the line’s maintenance depot. However, several protests followed, which halted the sanatorium’s demolition, and the two stations were launched yesterday while the maintenance depot is still being built.

“The department threatened that the Xinzhuang Line could not start operation unless the sanatorium was torn down to build the maintenance depot. The launch of the line is solid proof that the department was trying to fool sanatorium residents and the public,” a member of the Losheng Youth Alliance surnamed Kuo said in front of Huilong Station.

The department dismissed concerns about the line’s safety and said it would use part of the Zhonghe Line maintenance depot for train storage and emergency response measures before the depot for the Xinzhuang Line is completed.

The protest did not affect the stations’ launch ceremony. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) attended the ceremony and took an MRT train from Huilong Station to Fu Jen University Station.

Hau said the two stations would make transportation more convenient for passengers and promote business opportunities in the area. He added that Huilong Station, which is to connect the MRT Wanda Line and an extension line to Taoyuan County, would further benefit residents outside Taipei City and New Taipei City.

Chu, on the other hand, said he was “not too satisfied” with the fare discounts to celebrate the launch of the two stations and said Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC) should consider offering more discounts.

Under the discount, the Danfeng-Huilong route will not be included in EasyCard fare calculations if users enter or exit at either of the two stations. The preferential offer runs until tomorrow and saves passengers NT$4 on a trip.

The TRTC said the three-day discount would benefit an average of 21,000 passengers per day, or a total of 63,000 passengers during the period.

The interaction between Hau and Chu during yesterday’s ceremony also drew attention, because both are seen as possible Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) contenders in the presidential election in 2016.

“It’s sheer speculation and the public is mulling the issue,” Chu said when approached by reporters for comments.

Hau joined Chu in dismissing the rumors. He said he and Chu have known each other since serving as professors at National Taiwan University.
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Old July 7th, 2013, 12:33 PM   #332
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Sun, Jul 07, 2013
Taipei Times
Groups urge protection of Bitan scenic bridge



Civic groups and local activists living near New Taipei City’s (新北市) Bitan (碧潭) scenic spot yesterday called on people to join them in protecting the 76-year-old suspension bridge in the area from being damaged by an urban renewal project.

Using a Facebook page, the Organization of Urban Re-s (OURs) urged people who supported designating the old bridge as a cultural heritage site to gather at the bridge in the afternoon and voice their demands to the city government.

At about 4pm yesterday, dozens of people gathered on the bridge and held yellow signs that read “designate [the bridge] a cultural heritage site.”

OURs member Chuang Ting-yu (莊婷宇) said the bridge was being threatened by a construction project that will erect a number of 26-story apartment buildings close to one end of the bridge.

The group said it is unreasonable that while up to 65 percent of the construction project’s land is public property, the city government did not choose to protect the suspension bridge for the public to enjoy, but rather allowed private contractors to build tall residential buildings on the land.

In addition, the group said the construction project may also affect the safety of the bridge by harming its piers, and also destroy the scenery that has attracted many visitors to the area in the past decades.

Chuang said that during a city government review meeting on June 26, the committee members voted on the issue and seven specialists had voted in support of naming the bridge a cultural heritage site, but the no conclusion was reached on that day and another meeting on the issue is scheduled for this month.

The group urged the city government to recognize that the bridge is not only the last remaining bridge featuring a unique tungsten steel ball-bearing design in the world, but also an important collective memory of many Taiwanese, and should be protected for future generations.
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Old July 8th, 2013, 07:47 PM   #333
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Tue, Jul 09, 2013
Tamhai New Town project must pass through stricter EIA
Taipei Times


News clip from 東森

The initiation of the second phase of the new Tamhai New Town (淡海新市鎮) development project in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui District (淡水) was blocked by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) general assembly yesterday, until it passes a second, stricter review.

The project to create a town using 1,756 hectares of land north of central Tamsui to relocate 300,000 people from the overcrowded Taipei metropolitan area was first proposed by the Construction and Planning Agency in 1992.

The first phase of the project has been completed. The second and third stage plans were drawn up in 1995, but never implemented after the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) requested that both be submitted to two EIAs.

After many years of delays, the agency this year submitted another development project covering more than 1,100 hectares to an EIA under a new name, but which included zones that were designated for development under the original plan’s second phase.

Before the EIA general assembly meeting was held yesterday, dozens of people supporting and opposing the project gathered at the EPA to express their views.

Carrying soil, rice stems and seaweed from the area, representatives of a Tamsui self-help association said the project would destroy not only the area’s environment and ecology, but also its high-quality agricultural land and fishing sites. Cultural sites such as 100-year-old houses, aqueducts and ponds would also be destroyed, they added.

They said the first phase of the project was finished more than 20 years ago, but though it was designed to house 130,000 people, only 13,000 have moved — one-tenth of what was planned — so if the new project proposal is realized, it will likely only create another “ghost town.”

Members of the association are also concerned that more than 15,000 households would be forced to relocate if the project is approved.

“We don’t want to become the second Dapu Borough (大埔) of Taiwan,” association member Tsai Yin (蔡瀛) said.

In an effort to gain approval from the general assembly, the Construction and Planning Agency has amended the proposal to reduce the size of the development to 655 hectares, so it only includes the first zone of the original second phase area.

Supporters of the project, including city councilors and borough chiefs, said that the project could help develop the area economically and many residents have already waited more than 20 years for the development to be completed.

Taking into consideration the possible impacts that the project would have, the meeting’s committee members concluded that the proposal needs to undergo a second-phase EIA process to be reviewed more thoroughly.
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Old July 15th, 2013, 05:51 PM   #334
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Taipei finishes first city gov't-led urban development project
By Lauly Li ,The China Post
July 10, 2013

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The first urban development project involving a Taipei City Government-led apartment demolition has been completed, Deputy Mayor Chang Chin-oh (張金鶚) announced yesterday, saying that the project is an excellent demonstration of a successful urban renewal project.

The redevelopment in Jingmei of Wenshan (文山區), or Jingmei project (景美都更案) as it is colloquially known, is the first such project to be guided by the city government.

Chang said that, like the controversial Wenlin Yuan (文林苑) urban development project that saw two houses razed by the Taipei City Government against the owners' wishes in 2012, there was one household member, surnamed Kao, who did not agree to the project before construction commenced in 2010.

The Taipei government demolished Kao's apartment under Urban Renewal Act No. 36 on June 9, 2010. That same day Kao went to a police station and reported the incident to maintain an official record of his dissent.

Chang Wen-te (張溫德), chief engineer at the Taipei City Urban Redevelopment Office, said that as Kao's previous property was within the project's scope, after the project was completed, Kao will receive one household, one parking space and NT$10 million to make up for owning less than two households' property rights.

The deputy mayor said local governments have been questioned about the legitimacy of demolishing people's homes, noting that the Legislative Yuan should amend the Urban Renewal Act as soon as possible to clarify whether or not the local government should be the executor of demolitions.

Chang suggested that urban renewal projects go through a negotiation process if there is any controversy regarding them, noting that if the negotiations go well the Taipei City Government will assist the project's construction consortium in demolishing the properties.

39 Public Housing Releases

The project is located near the famous Jingmei night market, and the city government noted that previously there were 10 households within the project scope, and there are 118 households now that the project has been completed.

Of those 118 households, 39 households are to be redistributed to the Taipei City Government, Chang said, adding that the 39 households will be part of Taipei's public housing scheme.

The capital's public housing policy states that properties owned by the city government are open to citizens who meet certain conditions and will be offered at a rental price 30-percent below the market price.

Applicants must be Taipei residents, aged between 20 and 46, with household annual income below NT$1.26 million and their close relatives or spouse must not own residential land for self-use.
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Old July 26th, 2013, 12:18 PM   #335
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Huaguang residents protest outside Taipei City Hall
RESIDENTS’ PLEA:The residents urged the Taipei mayor to suspend demolition work scheduled for Friday next week and assist them in finding permanent homes
Taipei Times
Sat, May 11, 2013

Aerial photos : http://gis.rchss.sinica.edu.tw/mapda...021&lang=zh-tw

A dozen residents of Taipei’s Huaguang Community (華光社區) and their supporters demonstrated outside Taipei City Hall yesterday, asking Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to defend freedom of residence and offer a long-term relocation plan to help them resettle.
Thu, Jul 25, 2013
Taipei Times
Relocation vital to Huaguang residents facing demolitions

A 73-year-old on a ventilator yesterday called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to provide new housing before next month, when homes in Huaguang Community (華光社區) are scheduled to be dismantled.

“There is not much I ask the government to do, only that it helps resolve our relocation problem and abrogates the fines,” Yu Ssu-chin (余賜秦) told a press conference in Taipei organized by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇).

A monthly wage of little more than NT$30,000 from his youngest son is the main source of income Yu’s family of five relies on, said a student surnamed Tung (董) who, with other students, has sided with the residents to preserve their houses.

Tung said the residents recently received a letter from the Ministry of Justice, which owns the land, reminding them demolition is set to begin at the end of next month, but most of them have nowhere to go.

Located near Taipei’s National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the Huaguang Community has been designated by the Executive Yuan as the site for a commercial zone.

The community was originally a neighborhood of 183 households, but earlier this year, part of the neighborhood was flattened despite opposition from residents.

Yu said the house he has lived in for more than 30 years was bought from a friend and the transaction was completed after filing for registration at the Daan District Office.

“Although I did not own the land, the house was mine,” Yu said.

Therefore, Yu said he does not understand why he was found by the ministry to be illegally profiting from occupying the land.

After the ministry won a lawsuit, the court ordered forfeiture of one-third of his youngest son’s salary to pay legal costs of NT$130,000.

In addition to a fine of NT$2 million (US$66,862), Yu must pay NT$110,000 for the dismantling of his house if he fails to demolish it by the deadline.

“I cannot afford all these fines. I cannot afford to live in public housing either because I have to pay a deposit of NT$50,000 before we move in, monthly rent of NT$10,000, management costs of NT$1,000 and a parking fee of NT$2,000 per month,” Yu said.

The ministry has arranged for Huaguang residents to live in public housings, but many of them have found the accommodation unaffordable or unsuitable, Tung said.

“We urge the Ministry of Justice to call off its demolition plans until it provides relocation assistance for the displaced people that meets their specific needs,” Tung said, joined by dozens of students at the press conference.

John Liu (劉可強), professor and executive director of the Building and Planning Research Foundation at National Taiwan University, slammed the government for “a gross violation of the Constitution” over the salary forfeiture and over the forced evictions without adequate alternative housing as required by international human rights standards under the two human rights covenants the nation has signed.

Tien said Ma should step in to settle the problem because he had repeatedly promised the residents when he was mayor of Taipei that their houses would not be flattened before they have adequate places to live in.
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Old August 5th, 2013, 05:09 AM   #336
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Mon, Aug 05, 2013
Taoyuan hopes to inspire travelers while they wait
Taipei Times

Travelers waiting to board their flights at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport will not have a problem killing time after the construction of several themed lounges is finished next year.

The nation’s largest international airport first drew the attention of the media with the opening of a waiting lounge featuring Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty.

Wen Yung-sung (溫永松), senior vice president of Taoyuan International Airport Corp (TIAC), said the airport began renovating 34 waiting lounges in its terminals in 1999, with the project featuring a variety of different themes.

He said that the work has been carefully planned to avoid disruption of walking routes for passengers inside the terminal, which was why the renovations have taken such a long time.

The renovation of 24 lounges was finished as of last month, including six new themed lounges, he said, adding that work on the remaining 10 lounges is scheduled to be completed by the end of next year.

Six new lounges in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 feature Taiwanese operas and Hakka culture as well as the fruit, tea, Koji Pottery and 100 high mountains of Taiwan, according to the airport operator.

The waiting lounge featuring Taiwanese opera was designed by Xiao Qin-yang (蕭青陽), who has been nominated for Grammy Awards four times for his album cover designs.

One of his nominated works was an album cover for singer Lala Xu (徐佳瑩), who sang a song inspired by the well-known Taiwanese opera Love Amongst War (薛平貴與王寶釧).

Aside from watching Taiwanese opera, TIAC said that visitors to the traditional opera-themed lounge in Terminal 1 will be able to see pictures of two main characters from Love Amongst War that have been painted on a wall.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy Chinese calligraphy created by Taiwanese calligrapher Grace Tung (董陽孜).

Another spectacular lounge is the one in Terminal 1 featuring Koji pottery designed by artist Chen Chung-cheng (陳忠正).

Chen worked with five other artists to decorate a wall 19m wide and 6.3m high with colorful ceramic cherry blossom flowers.

The Hakka culture themed lounge is sited next to the D6 boarding gate in Terminal 2.

Visitors can read about the history and culture of the Hakka people, including how they migrated to different parts of Asia and their distinct customs.

Visitors can also watch a mini-film about Hakka culture and play an interactive game testing their knowledge of Hakka traditional clothing.

Artifacts and other examples of Hakka culture are also to be displayed in the lounge from time to time.
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Old August 14th, 2013, 06:44 AM   #337
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Tue, Aug 13, 2013
Taipei Times
Aerotropolis fuels land price surge


Source : http://www.taoyuan-aerotropolis.com

The planned Taoyuan Aerotropolis project in Taoyuan County’s Dayuan Township (大園) has raised concerns among residents over its promised economic benefits, after it received lukewarm responses from investors while fueling land speculation and driving up property prices.

According to a local real-estate agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the 6,150 hectare development project has turned Dayuan from a relatively poor part of the county into its wealthiest township.

“Dayuan is now home to more than 1,000 billionaires, the highest number of any township and borough in Taiwan,” he said.

“In addition, the price of land surrounding the Aerotropolis has soared 25-fold from NT$4,000 per ping (3.3m2) to NT$100,000 over the past few years, while property sales during the same period amounted to NT$230 billion [US7.67 billion],” he said.

The Taoyuan Aerotropolis is one of eight areas to be designated as free-trade zones by the government as part of its plans to establish “free economic pilot zones.”

The government is expected to invest NT$321.225 billion in the development project, which aims to transform Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and its surrounding areas into a global transportation and logistics hub by 2030.

However, the project has been an issue of contention since the Executive Yuan launched it in September last year, mainly because it requires the expropriation of 3,316 hectares of land and the demolition of 15,510 houses, affecting 46,500 residents.

Real-estate investors have long shunned lands in the township because buildings near the airport would be subjected not only to serious noise pollution, but also to stringent height limits, the agent said.

“However, property prices began to climb after the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced its plan to construct a third terminal and runway at the airport [in 2011.] The upward trend became even more noticeable after the launch of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project last year,” he said.

The agent added that the price of farmland in townships surrounding Dayuan has also rocketed due to the development project, attributing farmland speculation to the flawed regulations governing sales of such land.

“Owners of farmland wishing to sell their land are only required to obtain a certificate of agricultural use of such land, and because sales of farmland are exempt from value-added tax or luxury tax, land speculators may sell and re-sell the land several times within a year, he said.

However, in stark contrast to the red-hot real-estate market in the county, the government’s plan to attract NT$60 billion in private-sector investment for the Aerotropolis project has so far been met with lukewarm responses from investors, the agent said.
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Old August 23rd, 2013, 06:04 AM   #338
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Xinyi and north :

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台北 by 傑森林 (Jason Lin), on Flickr
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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:49 AM   #339
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Fri, Mar 01, 2013
Wugu-Yangmei overpass to finally open on March 11
Taipei Times

The entire Wugu-Yangmei overpass (五楊高架橋) will open on March 11, Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said on Wednesday.

The 40km overpass is constructed alongside the Sun Yat-sen Freeway to ease peak-hour congestion between Taipei and Taoyuan, as well as between Jhongli (中壢) and Yangmei (楊梅). The ministry opened the 12km long Jhongli-Yangmei section in December last year.

The 28km section between Wugu and Jhongli — 28km in distance — was originally scheduled to open before the Lunar New Year holiday, but inclement weather and a labor shortage prevented the work from being finished on time, causing the ministry to repeatedly postpone the official opening of the entire overpass.

The ministry’s Department of Railways and Highways has arranged to have a final safety inspection of the overpass’ Wugu-Jhongli section today.

Yeh said on Wednesday that the ministry would hold an inauguration ceremony for the overpass on March 10. The overpass will officially be opened to traffic on March 11.

The National Expressway Engineering Bureau, which is building the overpass, estimated that it would help reduce driving time in peak hours by about 20 minutes.

The bureau is banning large cargo trucks from using the overpass, which is also equipped with the nation’s first high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane.

The lane can only be used by vehicles carrying more than three people.

Meanwhile, Yeh said the ministry would likely launch a trial run exempting drivers on the east-west national freeways from toll fees after the ministry begins implementing a “pay-as-you-go” policy this year. Yeh said that polls by the National Freeway Bureau showed that a majority of freeway users still opposed the plan to include the east-west national freeways in the policy, because some serve as important regional commuting routes. However, some transportation experts suggested that the ministry implement the policy first and make gradual improvements later.

Yeh said that complementary measures must be in place if the policy does not apply to the east-west freeways.

“The Freeway Construction Fund (國道建設基金) would be reduced by about NT$2 billion (US$67.5 million) a year if the freeways running east to west are excluded from the policy, which might mean the nation would not have enough funds to build another freeway,” Yeh said.

Nevertheless, Yeh said that the ministry was considering having a trial operation for two or three years exempting drivers on east-west national freeways from toll-fees to observe if there is any change in freeway user behavior. The ministry can also use that time to test how sensitive drivers are to toll fees if they are charged at different rates in peak hours and off-peak hours.

Mon, Aug 26, 2013
Taipei Times
Bureau defends overpass as safe
NO COMPARISON: Last week’s overpass damage, caused by groundwater not draining fast enough, was nothing like the 2010 Formosa Freeway collapse, the bureau said

The Wugu-Yangmei Overpass, where cracks were found last week, poses no immediate danger to drivers, the National Expressway Engineering Bureau said yesterday, following an investigation over the weekend.

The 40km-overpass, which opened four months ago, was built alongside the Sun Yat-Sen Freeway (National Freeway No. 1) to divert the traffic between Wugu (五股) in New Taipei City (新北市) and Yangmei (楊梅) in Taoyuan County.

Its safety came under scrutiny after three cracks were found in the road by the 45km-marker last week.

As the damaged road surface was discovered after the nation was struck by heavy rainfall brought by Tropical Storm Trami, many have begun to question the quality of the overpass’s construction and whether it is able to withstand the impact of natural disasters.

The bureau said that it launched a two-day on-site investigation to determine the cause of the cracks.

It excavated section of the road in which the cracks were found, as well as those nearby, and compared the data with results of the geological surveys previously done on National Freeway No. 1.

The investigation showed that the draining of the overflowing groundwater caused by heavy rainfall was not quick enough, which forced some groundwater to flow in the direction of the road surface, the bureau said.

Some media reports compared what happened on the overpass last week with the massive landslide on the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) three years ago that killed four people. However, the comparison was wrong, the bureau said.

The 2010 landslide at the 3.1km-marker of National Freeway No. 3 happened because the road has a dip slop, formed by sandstone and shale, which was softened due to continuous infiltration of the ground water. The ground anchors lost their grip on the dip slope due to corrosion. Both factors together had caused the massive landslide, the bureau said.

According to the bureau, construction personnel would continue monitoring the overpass. The bureau said it would work on measures that would help drain the excessive groundwater, or obstruct the refill of groundwater.

Taiwan Geotechnical Society civil engineering experts would be invited to conduct a separate safety assessment and offer suggestions, which the bureau would follow to reinforce the structure of the overpass.

The bureau said the problem will not affect the safety of the overpass.
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Old September 2nd, 2013, 05:41 AM   #340
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Sunset must be protected against bridge, artists sayThe Tamsui River sunset does not meet the requirements because it does not have the interaction of both humans and nature
29 August 2013
Taipei Times

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DanShui sunset 淡水夕照 by [email protected], on Flickr

Artists and writers yesterday called for the protection of the famous sunset at Tamsui Rivers mouth as a piece of cultural heritage, while they protested against a planned bridge construction project.

However, the citys department of cultural affairs said the sunset does not match designated criteria for cultural heritage.

The planned Tamkang Bridge, which will connect Tamhai New Town in Tamsui and the Taipei Harbor in Bali, both in New Taipei City, received approval from an Environmental Impact Assessment meeting in June.

Holding replica works of the sunset by famous painters, the representatives, accompanied by Democratic Progressive Party legislators Tien Chiu-chin and Cheng Li-chiun, spoke out in a bid to preserve the scenery at the river mouth, which has been voted more than once as one of Taiwans top-eight scenic spots.

The key point is where to construct the bridge and how to balance economic development and cultural preservation... Many countries would not build a bridge that blights their most beautiful scenic view, orchestra conductor Tseng Dau-hsiong said.

Cheng said it was sad that the famous painting of the Tamsui sunset by renowned painter Chen Cheng-po was sold for about NT$210 million (US$7 million) to Hong Kong, and now the government was unwilling to keep the real thing for future generations of Taiwanese to enjoy with their own eyes.

Sophie Seeing, a documentary filmmaker, said the petition to the citys Department of Cultural Affairs to designate the Tamsui sunset as cultural heritage was refused under the Enforcement Rules of the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, which says cultural heritage requires the interaction between humans and nature, whereas the sunset is pure natural scenery that cannot be managed.

Liu Hsin-jung, assistant professor at Tamkang Universitys Department of Architecture, said in order for the residents in Japans Kyoto to see giant bonfires lit on mountains surrounding the city during the annual Daimonji festival, the Japanese government had even set regulations on the height of buildings in the city, which he says means the preservation of culture must also consider symbolic meanings and peoples feelings for history and tradition as a whole.

Tseng Chi-tien, chief of the Cultural Heritage Division at the citys Department of Cultural Affairs, said the sunset should not be tied together with the river mouth, because it can be seen in other places too.

If the bureau designates the Tamsui sunset as cultural heritage, it still lacks a property owner, manager and users, so it will be impossible to establish management plans, he added.

However, the Ministry of Cultures Bureau of Cultural Heritage Deputy Director Nien Chen-yu said the ministry cannot interfere with the city governments authority on individual cases.

He said the ministry discovered that local governments have different identification criteria for designating cultural heritage, so the ministry will further discuss and communicate with the local governments on this aspect, adding that the education on the significance of cultural heritage in Taiwan must be improved too, especially among government officials and teachers.

While Tien suggested that the government spends more money to build an underwater tunnel to solve the traffic problem, Seeing suggested that the government should at least hold community consultation in the Tamsui area to gather public opinion.
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