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921 Jiji Earthquake - Highway Reconstructions

Introduction from the Secretary of the Directorate General of Highways

On September 21, 1999, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck the Jiji area. It was one of the largest earthquakes of the last century. Casualties were serious, and financial losses numbered in the billions. The shock drew the world’s attention to Taiwan. Engineering specialists from Europe, the United States, and Japan joined the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) at disaster areas to conduct research and analysis. Among them were members of the DGH’s Second Maintenance Office, which oversees the roads and bridges in the disaster regions of Nantou, Taichung and Miaoli counties.

The DGH directed the Second Maintenance Office to evaluate the damage. The toll was astounding — from the destroyed roadways to the collapsed bridges. I was among those who traveled to the stricken area and witnessed Director Wu and the members of the Second Maintenance Office risking their lives to clear away debris, so rescue teams and supplies could enter the disaster zones, and victims could leave.

What struck me most was the spirit of responsibility demonstrated by the DGH staff, along with an efficiency and a competence that allowed for main links to disaster zones to be cleared in just one day. Four days later, rocks and debris were removed. I was touched by the collaborative effort and the willingness of staff to enter disaster zones despite the apparent risks. Their calm and focus meant traffic could quickly be restored.

A year has passed since the 921 earthquake, and the pain remains fresh in our minds. But it has been partially eased due to the hard work of the Second Maintenance Office and other staff at the DGH, who remain fully committed to reconstruction of stricken areas. To ensure that we never forget the past, the Second Maintenance Office has kept detailed records of the rebuilding process and compiled them into the book “921 Jiji Earthquake — Highway Reconstructions.” It is broken down into 13 chapters on construction and nine on memories, along with additional information in a five-chapter appendix. It serves a dual purpose, acting as a reference for highway staff and a reminder that we must stay prepared for the disasters that may come in the future. It is not only a valuable source of information but also a tribute to those who have given so much to rebuilding the nation’s damaged highways.

September 13, 2000

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