Joban Expressway fully opens as last section in Fukushima Pref. connected

2 March 2015

The entire 300.4-kilometer route of the Joban Expressway opened to traffic on March 1 as the section between the Joban-Tomioka Interchange in Tomioka town and the Namie Interchange in Namie town, both in Fukushima Prefecture, was finally connected after a long delay in work on the 14.3-km stretch caused by the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The expressway links Saitama and Miyagi prefectures. With the completion of the main artery that traverses the Hamadori region of eastern Fukushima Prefecture, goods distribution, people exchanges and tourism in the region are expected to become more active while recovery of the disaster-affected area is likely to accelerate.

The Joban Expressway was built based on a government decision in 1966 to construct a route between Tokyo and Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and another go-ahead in 1987 to build a road connecting Iwaki and Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture.

The section between the Joban-Tomioka and Namie interchanges was earlier planned for completion by March 2011. But because the nuclear disaster occurred that month, the construction work was suspended for two years as it became necessary to decontaminate the area. The opening of the stretch had been aimed for sometime before the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May this year, but the schedule was moved up by more than a month as part of efforts to speed up the recovery of the Hamadori region.

(Translated by Kyodo News)