The Japan Highway Public Corp. submitted an application July 29 to the Construction Ministry to open the new Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway on Dec. 18, with a one-way fare of 4,000 yen for the first five years.

The toll for the highway, which links Kawasaki to Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, beneath Tokyo Bay, is to be raised to 4,900 yen in the sixth year of operation. Japan Highway said it will offer advance tickets at a discounted rate of 3,500 yen. These will be valid for six months after the opening of the highway, also known as the Aqualine. The 15.1-km Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway, a 1.48 trillion yen project, is the world’s longest undersea highway. According to the firm, it will cut travel time between Kawasaki and Kisarazu by about 75 minutes, enabling motorists to cross the bay in about 15 minutes.

Construction Minister Shizuka Kamei told reporters the plan will probably be approved by the end of August. Initially, the one-way fare had been set at 5,050 yen. But Kamei ordered the fare to be lowered after officials decided the high fare would deter enough demand to be profitable. He suggested the fare could be lowered by extending the operator’s payment periods on the construction.

Highway officials originally estimated the route would be used by about 33,000 vehicles daily, but new estimates place usage at about 25,000 vehicles a day. The route consists of a 4.4-km bridge running from the Chiba shore to a newly built man-made island from which the route proceeds into a 9.5-km tunnel to Kawasaki, cut through soft sludge beneath the seabed.

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