The Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway, a major pending issue for Yangpyeong-gun(county) and a key issue for future regional development, has gained initial approval of government. The Ministry of Economy and Finance held a financial project evaluation committee at the Sejong City Government Complex and passed a preliminary feasibility study on the highway project on April 30.
The Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway is a large-scale project with a total extension of 27 kilometers and a construction cost of 1,402 billion won from Songpa-gu, eastern Seoul to Yangpyeong. Feasibility studies are expected to begin sometime in 2022 with the aim of opening to traffic around 2031.
The highway project was promoted in 2008 at the private level by Hanshin Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd., but was rejected due to perceived lack of profitability after a review by the Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Management Center (PIMAC). Nonetheless, Yangpyeong-gun has made strenuous efforts to revive the project, which was eventually reflected in the government’s First Five-Year Highway Construction Plan' in 2017.
On numerous occasions, Yangpyeong-gun officials have visited the National Assembly, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Their efforts have paid off and saw the government’s advisory meeting on financial project evaluation pass preliminary feasibility studies of the expressway project on April 30.
The preliminary feasibility study is a system that evaluates large-scale projects with a total project cost of more than 50 billion won (more than 30 billion won in state funding) in advance in a bid to prevent waste of national budgets.
Initially, the Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway was considered having a low cost-benefit (B/C) and Yangpyeong was classified as a Seoul metropolitan area, raising negative views on the project. However, many people, notably residents of Yangpyeong-gun, was known to have lobbied toward the passage of the preliminary feasibility studies as the project was highly evaluated in terms of policy evaluation.
Chung Dong-kyun, head of Yangpyeong County, also visited Cheong Wa Dae and the Prime Minister's Office to push for the Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway project. In addition, holding interviews with a total of 33 lawmakers, he invariably stressed the need to build the project while conveying the wishes of the county residents. On the other hand, he has signed a mutual cooperation agreement with Gwangju and Hanam cities in a bid to boost regional cooperation in Gyeonggi Province.
Taking advantage of frequent visits to government agencies concerned, Yangpyeong-gun's social organizations delivered a signature book containing the wishes of 14,882 county residents to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, showing their strong support for the highway project.
What is more, before Governor Chung attended the Seoul-Yangpyeong Highway Finance Project Subcommittee in Sejong City on April 9, many county residents shouted in unison, "You can open the Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway!" during a highway attraction performance to encourage Governor Chung.
Yangpyeong-gun, located in northern eastern of Gyeonggi Province with a population of more than 120,000, said that the traffic congestion is very serious during the weekend and rush hours due to surges in traffic in the Seoul metropolitan portion of the Seoul-Chuncheon Expressway and National Road No. 6, currently the only main road linking Seoul and Yangpyeong. Without the planned Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway, officials said traffic conditions are feared to worsen because of the construction of the third new town in Hanam Gyosan District and Wangsuk District in Namyangju and the continued development of apartment complexes in Yangpyeong County
Traffic is expected to be dispersed when the Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway opens to traffic, and the current traffic congestion sections are expected to disappear soon or later. And travel time from the Gangnam area of Seoul to Yangpyeong are set to be shortened within 20 minutes.
Of note, increases in the number of tourists and influx of residents will likely contribute to revitalizing the local economy in Yangpyeong, which has been underdeveloped due to numerous regulation measures. Improving accessibility between the Seoul Metropolitan City, eastern Gyeonggi Province and Gangwon Province is also expected to contribute to the transportation of tourists and promotion of balanced regional development.
Reflecting on the Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway project, Governor Chung said “the continued networking with the National Assembly and related government agencies has paid off.” "It was also the result of the strong support of 120,000 Yangpyeong County residents."
"The Seoul-Yangpyeong Expressway will serve as a driving force for balanced local development not only in Yangpyeong-gun but also in the eastern part of Gyeonggi Province due to increased tourism promotion," he added. "While easing traffic congestion on weekends, the damage and inconvenience caused by the regulations that the residents have been receiving over 40 years will be alleviated.”