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An elevated expressway in Japan.

Plan calls for expressway running through Ginza to become elevated walkway

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) -- An elevated expressway that weaves through the Ginza district and is projected to become obsolete will be transformed into a pedestrian walkway, producing a potential Japanese version of New York City’s popular High Line, according to a plan being formulated by the Tokyo metropolitan government.
The metropolitan government, working with the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry and others on the project, aims to finalise details of the plan as soon as next year.
The transformation of the Tokyo Expressway, known as the KK route, will coincide with a project to build a tunnel for the section of the Metropolitan Expressway that currently runs over Nihonbashi bridge. Construction for moving the 1.2-kilometre section underground will start following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
The KK route was built after World War II to invigorate the Ginza district and ease traffic congestion in the surrounding area, and partly opened in 1959. The about 2-kilometre section still operating runs above two-story buildings between the Shinbashi and Kyobashi districts, including the Ginza Inz commercial complex and Ginza Corridor Street, which is lined with restaurants and bars.
The KK route connects with the Metropolitan Expressway and is used by about 30,000 cars daily. A private company operates the route through income from tenants, allowing it to be toll free.
With the Metropolitan Expressway’s Nihonbashi section shifting underground, the connection with the Inner Circular Route which links the Edobashi junction and the Shiodome district in the south — will also be lost. As a result, many cars will have to get on the Inner Circular Route via the KK route, but the route cannot handle large vehicles in its current state.
Consequently, the metropolitan government, the land ministry and other entities are making the final adjustments on a plan to build a new underground tunnel that large vehicles could also use. Once this tunnel is completed, the KK route will become obsolete.
In line with this plan, Chuo Ward head Taito Yamamoto last month submitted a proposal for the elevated walkway to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike. The Tokyo government has started studying the proposal aimed at formulating a plan.
The project’s total cost, including construction of the tunnel, is estimated to top ¥100 billion. The projected timeline calls for the tunnel to be completed within 10 years, when the walkway will also be opened.

(Latest Update November 27, 2019)

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