SHIZUOKA – A section of the new Tomei Expressway that will eventually link Tokyo and Nagoya opened Saturday afternoon, in time for the peak travel season around the Golden Week holidays.
The route’s operator, Central Nippon Expressway Co., said vehicles for the first time can access a 160-km stretch in Shizuoka Prefecture between the Gotenba and Mikkabi junctions.
Traffic between these two junctions on the existing Tomei Expressway came to a virtual standstill 60 times during last year’s Golden Week holidays.
But with this section now open on both expressways, Central Nippon Expressway expects each route will see similar congestion only once or twice this year.
The new Tomei Expressway will span around 255 km when it fully opens in fiscal 2020, and will reduce the travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya by about 20 minutes.
Its main purpose, however, is to reduce chronic traffic congestion on the existing Tomei Expressway, which was completed in 1969 and links Setagaya Ward in Tokyo and the city of Komaki near Nagoya.
High waves whipped up by typhoons also forced the current Tomei Expressway to close seven times last year between the Shimizu and Fuji interchanges, a section that runs along Shizuoka Prefecture’s shoreline, halting traffic for more than 150 hours in total.
Though the new expressway will run mostly parallel to the existing one, it is being constructed further inland so that it will not be as affected by stormy seas.