Tokyo’s 47-km-long expressway loop fully opens

JIJI

A 47-km-long expressway encircling central Tokyo fully opened on Saturday, some 50 years after it was planned, creating easier access to Haneda airport and potentially fewer traffic jams.

The Central Circular Route is the first to fully open among three Tokyo-area ring expressways for which plans were drawn up in 1963.

Construction costs totaled about ¥2 trillion. The route links areas of Tokyo such as Shinjuku and Shibuya, and connects to the Tomei Expressway and other expressways.

The Central Circular Route is the innermost of the three ring expressways. The other two are the Metropolitan Expressway and the Gaikan Expressway.

A ceremony was held in the morning to mark the opening of the final 9.4-km section between Ohashi and Oi junctions.

“The completion of the Central Circular Route is expected to bring a variety of benefits,” Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said at the ceremony. “We hope to make Tokyo the world’s No. 1 city, as we are preparing to host the Olympics and Paralympics in 2020.”

Other participants included Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota.

The completion of the route is expected to shorten car travel time between Shinjuku and Haneda airport to 20 minutes from about 40 minutes, and to reduce traffic jams on metropolitan routes inside the Central Circular Route by about 40 percent, according to the transport ministry.

In addition, it is expected to help boost businesses in the Tokyo metropolitan area by improving logistics.