• Kyodo

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A 28.5-km (17.7-mile) section of the Kenoudo Expressway in Ibaraki Prefecture opened Sunday, allowing it to link six major expressways stretching from the Tokyo metropolitan area to other regions.

Nearby residents hope the opening of the section between the Sakai-Koga Interchange and the Tsukuba-Chuo Interchange will revitalize tourism in the region by improving access from Narita airport in neighboring Chiba.

At a ceremony held at the new Joso Interchange, transport minister Keiichi Ishii cut a ribbon.

Construction started in 1989 for the Kenoudo Expressway, a circular road running through areas about 40 to 60 km away from central Tokyo. With the Ibaraki portion’s completion, the Tomei, Chuo, Kanetsu, Tohoku, Joban and Higashi-Kanto expressways were connected.

“The section’s opening is expected to ease traffic congestion and have various other favorable effects,” Ishii told reporters.

For instance, after arriving at Narita airport, visitors will now be able to drive to Shonan, a popular tourist destination in Kanagawa Prefecture, without passing through congested Tokyo.