NE Japan Earthquake Day 146: Traffic at Mito Interchange Doubles and Troubles After Tōhoku Tolls Suspended

Toll Free Tōhoku Highways
Northern highways whose tolls have been suspended for the benefit of disaster victims are in red. The three interchanges named at the bottom of the grid, from left, are Shin-Niigata, Shirakawa, and Mito.

Traffic at Mito Interchange Doubles and Troubles After Tōhoku Tolls Suspended
無料化便乗、水戸ICトラック激増…周辺に迷惑
August 3, 2011

Traffic at the Mito Interchange of the Jōban Expressway approaching Tokyo has increased dramatically since the toll there was suspended as part of the Great Tōhoku Earthquake recovery effort. Since driving on the road became free, there have been noticeably more trucks. The greater number of cars at major roads near the interchange is becoming problematic, and Ministry of Transportation officials are already getting headaches over the traffic jams to come during the Obon holidays in mid-August, when most Japanese return home to visit family gravesites.

As part of the recovery effort for northeastern Japan, in order to help refugees return home, mid-sized vehicles (like trucks and buses) and above have temporarily had the right to travel freely on the road. The policy, which is aimed at those with certificates proving they are disaster victims, went into effect June 20. Excluding the Tokyo metropolitan area, which includes the Shūtō Expressway, they can travel on the highway without paying a toll.

For example, a large-sized vehicle traveling from the Gifu Kakamigahara IC to the Utsunomiya IC on the Meishin, Tōmei, or Chūō Expressway would usually have to pay 16,300 yen. However, middle-sized cars and above leaving Gifu can avoid the toll-charging Shūtō Expressway and take the Tōkai Hokuriku or Ben-Etsu Expressway to the Jōban Expressway, then switch to the Kita-Kantō Expressway at the Mito Interchange and continue to Utsunomiya without showing a certificate or paying a toll.

According to the East Nippon Expressway Company, before the free highway usage system began, about 425,000 cars were on the roads each day, but the daily average was 508,000 from July 11-17. Traffic has increased across the board: the Jōban Hirono IC is seeing 27% more cars than usual, the Tōhoku Sendai-Miyagi IC 28%, the Tōhoku Morioka 41%. The Mito IC’s traffic has doubled from 9100 daily vehicles to 18,600 (104%), and the number of trucks has increased as far away as Kansai and Kyūshū.

Original/原稿:
無料化便乗、水戸ICトラック激増…周辺に迷惑

 東日本大震災の復旧・復興支援を目的にした高速道路の無料化に伴い、対象路線で最も東京寄りの常磐道・水戸インターチェンジ(IC、水戸市)の利用が急増している。高速道路料金を浮かそうと、同ICで乗り降りするトラックが目立ち、同IC近くの生活道路に入る車が増えて問題となっている。マイカー利用が増えるお盆を控え、国土交通省などは対策に頭を痛めている。

 東北地方を中心とした高速道路の無料化は復興支援のトラックやバスなどの中型車以上と、遠方に避難している被災者の一時帰宅の負担軽減などのため、罹災
りさい
・被災証明書を持つ車両を対象に6月20日から始まった。対象路線のICで乗り降りすれば、首都高など一部区間を除き、無料で通行できる。

 例えば、岐阜各務原IC(岐阜県各務原市)から宇都宮IC(宇都宮市)へ向かう場合、通常であれば名神、東名、中央などの各高速を通ると、大型車で片道1万6300円がかかる。しかし、中型車以上は証明書は不要で、料金が必要な首都高を避けて、東海北陸、磐越などを経由し常磐道に入り、水戸ICでいったん降りて再び同ICから乗り北関東道で宇都宮へ向かえば無料になる。

 東日本高速道路によると、対象路線の全ICの利用状況は制度開始前が1日平均42万5000台だったが、7月(11~17日)は50万8000台に。IC別では常磐道・広野(福島県広野町)が1・27倍、東北道・仙台宮城(仙台市)が1・28倍、同・盛岡(盛岡市)が1・41倍と軒並み増加。中でも水戸ICは9100台から1万8600台と2・04倍に増え、関西や九州のナンバーのトラックも見られる。

(2011年8月3日14時07分 読売新聞)

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