Taiwan Bridge Built During Japanese Colonial Era Serves Vital Post-Quake Function

Grab taken from video provided by Taiwan’s transportation authority
A reinforced Japanese colonial-era bridge is being used in place of the collapsed Xiaqingshui Bridge in the foreground.

TAIPEI ― A bridge built nearly a century ago during the Japanese colonial period is serving a vital function in the post-quake recovery in Taiwan, providing a transportation lifeline in place of major bridge that had collapsed.

The colonial era bridge, built in 1930, is being used in place of the Xiaqingshui Bridge that toppled after the massive earthquake struck off the coast of the eastern Taiwan city of Hualien.

Local residents have expressed surprise that the old bridge had the stability to withstand the April 3 earthquake, which reached upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale.

According to The Liberty Times and other sources, the 25-meter-long Xiaqingshui Bridge opened in 1972 and was along a coastal road in Hualien that provides the shortest route to Taipei in the north.

Urgently needing the route to transport relief goods to quake-hit areas, officials deemed the nearby Japanese-era bridge as usable if reinforced with steel trusses.

The 10-meter-long bridge was largely abandoned after the opening of Xiaqingshui Bridge, but it endured the quake and was opened to traffic on Saturday. Currently, it is open three times a day for small vehicles of less than 5 tons.

With the surprise reuse of the old bridge, posts on social media thanked Japan for having left behind “a solid infrastructure.” Taiwan’s Transportation and Communications Minister Wang Kwo-tsai wrote, “A great predecessor has come through.”

Throughout Taiwan, a number of structures from the colonial period remain as restaurants, tourist attractions and other functions.

The Qingxiu Yuan temple in Hualien, for example, was built in 1917 by immigrants from Tokushima Prefecture.

The temple suffered damage in the quake, which shifted the main hall’s pillars, caused pieces of mud walls to come off, and broke up stone statues. The main hall remains closed to visitors, and there is no timeline yet for repairs.