Central Cross-Island Highway
The construction of the Central Cross-Island Highway began on July 7, 1956 and was first opened to traffic on May 9, 1960.
The route of the highway begins in the west at Dongshi District in Taichung. The highway originally continued up into the Central Mountain Range following the Dajia River (大甲溪) valley through the townships of Guguan (谷關) and Cingshan (青山). However this section east of Guguan is permanently closed due to earthquake and typhoon damage and is impossible to pass through. At Lishan there is a branch that heads north to Yilan City. Passing through the mountains it reaches Dayuling (大禹嶺) which is the highest point of the route. Here another branch of the highway runs south from Dayuling to Wushe (霧社). Continuing east from Dayuling the highway route now begins its descent into the Taroko National Park. It passes through Guanyuan (關原), Cih-en (慈恩), Luoshao (洛韶) and Tiansiang (天祥) before entering Taroko Gorge. After the gorge the route then connects up with the eastern coastal Su'ao-Hualien Highway.
Highway damage and closure
The highway route runs through exceedingly rugged and unstable terrain. Heavy rain from typhoons often dislodge soil and rocks onto the highway making sections of it impassable. As well, the area is prone to seismic activity which can have disastrous effects on the highway. On September 21, 1999 the Jiji earthquake caused massive damage to the highway and cut the highway in multiple places between Dongshih and Lishan.
Following the unprecedented damage to the highway in 1999 there was strong debate on the feasibility and desirability of maintaining and repairing the highway. Extensive and costly repairs proceeded, and earthquake-damaged sections of the highway were due to be re-opened in 2004. Torrential rains from Typhoon Mindulle caused further damage to the highway, however, forcing the affected portions to be closed indefinitely.
The highway is still closed between Lishan and Guguan and is not expected to be repaired, but the New Central Cross-Island Highway now provides an alternative route across the island.
Bicycling uphill at Taroko Gorge
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- Search Taipei Times newspaper archives for references to the highway