In the essay on outdoor recreation, ‘Conservation Esthetic,’ Professor Leopold wrote, ‘Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.’
The total area of Taiwan is about 36,000 sq. km, and mountains account for 30% of the surface area. The Central Mountain Range has been an important barrier stretching from north to south. It stops typhoons approaching from Pacific Ocean going to the western plains and stops western invaders from going to the eastern areas. Ever since Taiwan was colonized by China and Japan, transportation between the east and the west has played a critical role in the local community development, government control, and natural resource depredation.
For example, after the Mudanshe Incident in 1871, Chinese government implemented the ‘Kai Shan Fu Fan’ policy, to go into the mountains and the east. After Japan took over Taiwan in 1895, Japanese government built not only railways in the western plains but also roads and railways to the eastern areas. After world war II, Kuomintang took over the regime from Japan, and three cross-island highways were built and a circular railway around Taiwan was finished.
These days, Taiwanese have been discussing three important transportation projects: Taiwan High Speed Rail (finished), Taipei-Yilan Freeway (finished), and Yilan-Hualian freeway (decision not final yet).
For decades, Taiwan's economic growth mainly focuses on the western plains, and there has been pressure to have more efficient transportation from western plains to eastern areas for a long time. And, nowadays, people ask not only ‘highway’, but ‘super-highway’ or ‘high-speed rail,’ so that Taiwanese can travel back and forth to anywhere in Taiwan in one day.
Chieftain also said,
Thanks to the modern technology, our dreams have chance to come true. For example, Taiwan's Hsuehshan tunnel, world's fifth longest tunnel, probably one of the top most difficult projects to complete in the world. It penetrates into Hseuhshan, the largest mountain in northern Taiwan; the project took 15 years, one tunnel boring machine, and (based on Veterans affairs commission) thirteen workers’ life (seven Thai people and six Taiwanese), and resulted in severe injury of three Taiwanese workers. Discovery produced a movie about the story: Man made marvels. Taiwan's Hsuehshan tunnel.
Children's mind said,
Although many people embrace the efficient transportation happily, more and more Taiwanese question the necessity of building roads, especially when the disturbance to the environment is obvious.
When Hsuehshan tunnel was under construction, lots of water inside the geology structure was lost, which increased the difficulty in constructing the tunnel. After the tunnel is open, there is still water loss everyday. Based on Ministry of transportation and communications Taiwan area national expressway engineering bureau, 36 m3 water is lost every minute. Although based on the same bureau, the amount lost is not particular significant compared to the tunnels in Japan. More, based on Chun-Hung Huang's report, the water lost is not related to the amount of water flowing into the reservoirs. Even so, people are still worried about the possibility of the water resource shortage as a result of tunnel construction in the future.
Ke-Hsiang Liu said,
Momoge discussed about the mindset of people making decision for these constructions:
When many people cosign to fight against the freeway constructions, Yenwen has different point of view:
when you cosign for the public issues, do you have the ability to distinguish the legitimacy of their proposal? Do you understand the government’s policy? Has Taiwan progressed enough that we can afford to have culture and environment playing more important roles than economic growth? Do you have better proposal?
Well, these are tough questions. But maybe Taiwan Railway Administration tries to answer the last one. There will be Taroko Train running between Taipei and Hualian starting May of 2007. Based on Introductions of trains in Taiwan, the reason to use this kind of trains is to solve the problems for the curves in the railways between Taipei and Yilan, and to minimize the commute to be within 2 hours.
To get to the bottom of the questions, we still want to ask, ‘transport what to where?’ If we have a lot of roads, what do we plan to do next? Leopold said, we should open our heart, to be closer to the nature. Then, if we have a lot of money, what do we want to do next? Perhaps, we want to live a more meaningful and happier life, and then our offsprings can live a happier and more meaningful life.
Mentioned in 2:30AM's blog, Tzu Chi's leader, Dharma Master Cheng Yen said in a TV show,