Many damaged sections of Ishikawa Pref. highways still closed; Personnel, Equipment Brought in by Sea, Land

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A landslide blocking a section of National Highway Route 249 at a location in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, is seen on Jan. 28.

Sixty-two sections of national and prefectural highways in Ishikawa Prefecture that were severely damaged by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake remain closed as of Friday. A little over 30% of the sections closed by the quake have been reopened within the first month, according to Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry officials.

The officials said that emergency restoration work alone will require more than three months for some sections of National Highway Route 249, a major artery that runs along the coast of the Noto Peninsula.

The ministry is hurrying to restore infrastructure in the prefecture by securing routes to bring in supplies and equipment by land and sea.

According to the ministry, on Jan. 5, when the approximate extent of damage to the roads became known, a total of 93 sections were closed, including 25 sections of Route 249, one section of Route 359 in the city of Kanazawa and 67 sections of prefectural highways.

As of Friday, nine sections of Route 249, the same section of Route 359, and 52 sections of prefectural highways remained closed to traffic, which means that only about 30% of the sections have been restored.

Although there are still many sections that remain cut off to traffic, the areas that are passable are expanding due to progress in restoration works.

Route 249 was hit hard by the earthquake as several tunnels along the coastline collapsed and landslides covered the road in several places. It is expected to take three months or more to remove the debris blocking the roads and tunnels.

In light of this situation, parties concerned, including the transport ministry, have worked to restore trunk roads in inland areas where damage has been relatively light, and have worked to make several prefectural highways that connect to Route 249 open to traffic. They have also created routes to affected areas from the sea. Personnel and equipment have been sent to affected areas from such routes, and are working to restore essential services, including running water, as quickly as possible.

In addition, there are some areas where emergency restoration alone is not sufficient to ensure safe travel, so it has been decided to begin construction of new roads. Transport minister Tetsuo Saito has indicated that full restoration of the road network is expected to take several years.

As for the Noetsu Expressway that runs through the peninsula, 10 sections were closed due to the earthquake, but now only one section remains closed, and it is expected to fully reopen by mid-March.