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Staff writer

OSAKA — Firms that hoped for an upsurge in business after the opening of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge exactly one month ago are seeing just that.

The number of vehicles using the world’s longest suspension bridge is now averaging some 30,300 vehicles each day, slightly higher than the projected figure of 30,000 vehicles.

“We can say the target has been reached so far, but the whole business performance can only be assessed in the long term. The number of vehicles using the bridge has been affected largely by the weather,” an official of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority said.

Surpassing the previous high of 53,082 vehicles marked April 12, more than 70,000 vehicles used the bridge Sunday, and similar figures are expected throughout the Golden Week holiday period, the official said.

So far one problem is that only a limited number of vehicles is using the expressway from Kobe to Tokushima via Awaji Island. In addition, on weekends, traffic jams sometimes cause delays of up to an hour on the Osaka-Tokushima stretch.

The bridge is part of the expressway linking Honshu and Shikoku via another span that traverses the stretch of water between southern Awaji Island and Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture. “Most visitors from Honshu make a U-turn at the island, reflecting the current leisure trend of people visiting places nearby and spending less money,” the official said. “As a result, the first stopover on the island, the Awaji service area on the Tokushima-bound side of the expressway, is filled with vehicles in the morning and the Kobe-bound side is busy in the evening.”

Some 242,382 people have visited the newly opened Nojima Danso Hozonkan (Fault Preservation Museum) in Phoenix Park, Hokutancho, on Awaji Island, since it opened April 3.

The museum, which is open daily until the end of May, shows the dislocation caused in the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 1995. The museum expected 300,000 visitors in its first year, but that number should be reached by the end of the Golden Week holidays, a park official said.

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