Longest suspension footbridge across Taroko Gorge opens
Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) The Shanyue Suspension Bridge, the longest in Taroko National Park in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County, officially opened Wednesday.
After nearly three years of construction, the new footbridge across the Liwu River at a height of 153 meters -- which makes it the highest bridge over the gorge -- was opened with the blessing of elders from the local Truku indigenous tribe.
The 196 meter bridge comes with viewing decks on both the north and south sides, accessible for those in wheelchairs or with strollers, according the park headquarters.
A bridge was first built in the location in 1914, but the original structure fell into disrepair after being largely replaced by the Central Cross-Island Highway, which opened in 1960 and runs from east to west across Taiwan, according to the park's website.
"The bridge was an important road for the Truku people in the Japanese colonial period," said Deputy Minister of the Interior Chiu Chang-yueh (邱昌嶽) who attended the opening ceremony.
The bridge is intended to improve the quality and safety of tourism in the hope of encouraging more tourists to visit Buluowan Service Station, he noted.
To visit the bridge, people have to book 3-14 days in advance, said Taroko National Park Headquarters Director Yu Deng-liang (游登良).
During the trial period, there will be four 45-minute guided tours each day, with a maximum of 200 visitors each time, but all places are fully booked until Aug. 26, he added.
Considering the increasing popularity, Yu said the park plans to gradually lift the daily cap to 1,200 and build trails connecting the bridge with existing trails, such as Zhuilu Old Road and the area around Badagang Police Station.
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