Gov't reopens highway section closed by Fukushima nuclear crisis

The government has reopened a section of National Route 6 running through part of the Hamadori region of Fukushima Prefecture, where residency is restricted due to radioactive contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. It opened the entire highway to traffic for the first time in three and a half years following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The move, effective as of midnight on Sept. 14, was announced on Sept. 12 by the government's local office addressing the nuclear accident. The road reopening is expected to activate goods distribution and exchanges among residents, spurring post-disaster reconstruction and the return home of evacuees. The traffic ban was lifted after decontamination work was completed along the affected Route 6 stretch at the request of local residents. The 14-kilometer section passes through the towns of Tomioka, Okuma and Futaba. The lifting of the ban also applied to a 1.7-km prefectural road stretch in Tomioka linking Route 6 and the Tomioka interchange of the Joban Expressway. Motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians are still not allowed due to the higher risk of exposure to radiation from the nuclear plant. No parking is permitted along the affected stretch, with amber lights of traffic signals left blinking. (Translated by Kyodo News)