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Construction resumed for curved bridge

A 21-meter-high arch was placed on the Yanghwa Bridge on Wednesday, signaling the resumption of suspended construction work.

The currently curved bridge, which has prompted safety concerns among drivers, will be reshaped into a straight line within eight days of engineering work, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.

“Opening to traffic could be possible by early May after related works are completed,” said a city official. 
An arch is installed on the Yanghwa Bridge in Seoul on Wednesday, resuming suspended construction work which will reshape the currently curved bridge into a straight line. (Yonhap News)
An arch is installed on the Yanghwa Bridge in Seoul on Wednesday, resuming suspended construction work which will reshape the currently curved bridge into a straight line. (Yonhap News)

The odd-shaped bridge reflects the ongoing feud between Mayor Oh Se-hoon, affiliated with the ruling Grand National Party, and the city council, dominated by members from the main opposition Democratic Party.

As part of its waterway development plan, the city started widening the space between bridge posts so that 6,000 ton ships could easily sail under the bridge.

However, the city council decided on major budget cuts, criticizing the plan for being part of the Grand Canal Project, the key campaign pledge of President Lee Myung-bak held back due to public opposition.

Even though the council approved 8.5 billion won ($7.5 million) to reshape the curved bridge, the city declined the offer, calling for the whole approval of the original budget plan of 18.2 billion won.

Coupled with the controversial free school meals policy, there has been no sign of agreement so far.

After their month-long talks ended recently without settling differences, Seoul Mayor Oh declared that the city would resume construction work using reserve funds.

“(The city government) has decided not to ignore citizens’ inconvenience caused by the city council’s single-minded decision,” Oh said during a news conference on Feb. 15.

“The city government is operated normally. However, the current confrontation, if not solved properly, could repeat in future years, making the city management unstable.”

On Wednesday, the city council criticized the construction resumption even though they acknowledged that the curved bridge reeded to be reshaped.

“The bridge renovation is aimed at breaking a healthy bridge to accommodate huge cruise ships that would be enjoyed only by some rich people,” said Oh Seung-rok, the spokesperson for the council’s DP members.

“The budgets reduced by the council cannot be filled from reserve funds. But considering the unexpected situation (of the curved bridge), we agree only to the work reshaping the bridge.”

However, the council made it clear that the city should not use reserve funds for the resumption of the whole construction on the waterway project.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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