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Taroko Rockfall Response Program Situation
I. Origin and basis
Origin
The scenery of Taroko Gorge is renowned worldwide. In 2015, the national park received over 6.659 million visitors. Rockfalls are a natural hazard that put visitors at risk when they are on the park trails.
Basis
When Minister Without Portfolio Chien Tai-lang inspected Taroko under the instructions of the National Defense Group he pointed out that rockfalls put visitors at risk and said that the problem needed to be urgently resolved. He stated that Tunnel of Nine Turns (Jiuqudong) should be given priority and instructed Taroko National Park Administration to promptly submit a program to the Executive Yuan. Also, on June 28, 2014, Premier Chiang Yi-hua expressed concern about the “rockfall protection” handling situation when on an inspection visit to Taroko.
II. Scope of program plan
The scope of the main plan is the sides of the most spectacular section of the Central Cross-Island Highway-Tianxiang (Provincial Highway No. 8 169K+940 to 188K+500, 18.56 kilometers in total) and along both sides of the road.
III. The main strategy and objectives of the Program plan
Intended to raise the level of service quality and visitor safety, the contents of the program plan are summarized below:
1. Daily operational management
An emergency rescue system has been established and Standard Operating Procedure set for disaster emergency response and emergency rescue plans etc.; and safety education and advocacy have been enhanced and safety helmets provided as primary protection. The maximum insurance benefit per person of the National Park Accident Liability Insurance’s additional rockfall insurance was increased to NT$5 million in August, 2014.
2. Early warning environmental monitoring
The park Administration has established a routine patrol monitoring mechanism; for example, Swallow Grotto (Yanzikou) Trail is patrolled every day and findings used as the basis for deciding whether the trail is open or closed, and the Directions for Closure of Leisure Facilities and Areas of Taroko National Park Administration have also been formulated as the basis for management in the event of earthquakes, typhoons or torrential rain.
Geological and hydrological surveys have been carried out in the Tunnel of Nine Turns(Jiuqudong), Swallow Grotto(Yanzikou), Eternal Spring Shrine(Changchun Shrine) areas and other areas, related maps collected and LiDar (Light Detection and Ranging), aerial photography, and other technology, used for analysis, assessment and surveying to protect against disaster-causing factors.
3. Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program Plan
Short-term:
Handle Gorge visitor insurance, rockfall monitoring, facility management and maintenance and carry out the Xiaozhuilu Trail project (already finished,) Swallow Grotto Jinheng Park rockfall protection project (already finished) and Tunnel of Nine Turns Rockfall Protection Tunnel and trail landscape protection project that was set for completion in 2016; however, due to financial difficulties encountered by the contractor, the contract was terminated and work resumed after midway payment(settlement) and re-bidding for the constuction, so the completion time has thus been delayed.
Mid-term:
Continue to implement the Xiaozhongheng(Small Central Cross-Island Highway) Plan (optimize the Taroko-Shakadang-Buluowan areas, Shanyue Suspension Bridge project (contract already signed), Buluowan cultural highlights and other visitor dispersal plans, set for completion 2016-2018.
Long-term:
In accordance with the planning conception of the Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program, strive to gain funding, and implement the program from 2016 to 2019.
4. Plan Objectives
Increase the disaster prevention capability of facilities and, in combination with management of disaster avoidance and conformity to disaster, carry out visitor dispersal on a priority basis.
Combine close to natural landscape engineering methods and universal design to promote rockfall protection related facility projects.
Improve dangerous sections of the Central Cross-Island Highway in cooperation with the highway bureau.
Promote the achievement of a leisure environment with sustainable safety.
5. The course of the Taroko Rockfall Response Program
Date The Course
April 9, 2012 Minister Without Portfolio Chien Tai-lang inspected Taroko under the instructions of the National Defense Group and instructed Taroko National Park Administration to submit a program to the Executive Yuan.
March 3, 2013 On an inspection tour of Taroko, Vice President Wu Den-yih instructed the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and Ministry of the Interior (MOI)to protect road safety on the Central Cross-Island Highway.
August 22, 2013 The Taroko Gorge Visitor Protection Engineering Project was passed to the Construction and Planning Agency (CPA) and then transferred to MOI.
September 30, 2013 MOI held an inter-agency meeting to discuss the Taroko Gorge Visitor Protection Engineering Project.
November 5, 2013 The conclusion after the CPA onsite inspection: Report this plan to the relevant higher authority after adjusting the contents in accordance with “Guidelines for Editing Mid to Long Term Individual Plans for All Agencies Under the Executive Yuan”.
November 29, 2013 According to instructions, Taroko National Park Administration presented a project proposal to the Executive Yuan.
April 11, 2014 Premier Chiang Yi-hua attended a Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program briefing.
May 16, 2014 CPA Director General Ding Yu-Qun carried out onsite inspection of the Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program.
June 3, 2014 Chaired by MOI Deputy Minister Lin Ci-ling, an All Minister’s Morning Meeting and Highlight Points Meeting heard a Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program report.
June 28, 2014 Premier Chiang inspected the Central Cross-Island Highway (Provincial Highway 8) and chaired the Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program meeting.
6. Main contents and estimated budget of the Taroko Gorge Visitor Protection Engineering Project
The main work items and budget: Xiaozhongheng area visitor dispersal NT$46,224,000, Buluowan Taroko cultural highlights park NT$172,450,000, Tunnel of Nine Turns Trail Safety Project NT$52,500,000, Swallow Grotto Trail safety project NT$567,286,000, a total of NT$838. 46 million. Safety facilities and dispersal facilities will be constructed at the same time and attention paid to both safety and visitor control and guidance.
7. Results
The park administration has actively addressed the problem of rockfalls in recent years; Xiaozhuilu Trail was opened on November 2, 2015, linking Taroko and Shakadang. Rockfall protection work on the section of highway at Swallow Grotto Trail Jinheng Park that gets crowded with vehicles and people was completed in February 2015.
For visitor safety and dispersal, the building of Shanyue Suspension Bridge was given priority. Site selection and survey was completed in 2014, construction work began on August 1, 2016 and, after an estimated 500 days of work, it is set for completion in the first half of 2018. Peripheral service facilities will continue to be optimized to disperse visitors to safe places to view the scenery.
The most important aspect of operational management at present is enhancing visitor safety advocacy and carrying out necessary dispersal of visitors; in coordination with highway and police units and Hualien County Government, a Shakadang and Eternal Spring Shrine traffic dispersal plan has been implemented and an off-road temporary parking lot that was opened to large vehicles on January 13, 2016, established at Xiagu Bridge (closed to the east entrance of Taroko gorge) on the Central Cross-Island Highway, effectively improving safety and reducing traffic congestion.
The Taroko Gorge Rockfall Response Program will be implemented as part of the 2016-2018 National Park Plan and have a budget of NT$ 838.46 million.

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