Loose bolts found in Sasago Tunnel
Jiji PressLoose ceiling bolts have been found in a tunnel parallel to the one whose ceiling collapsed Dec. 2 in Yamanashi Prefecture, killing nine people.
The bolts are anchoring ceiling panels in the outbound Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway. The bolts do not appear to pose an immediate risk of the ceiling's collapse, informed sources said Saturday.
The collapse occurred in the Tokyo-bound tunnel. Both tunnels were closed following the collapse.
In the wake of the accident, the expressway operator, Central Nippon Expressway Co. (NEXCO-Central), carried out emergency checks on the other tunnel from Monday through Thursday, according to the company and the transport ministry.
NEXCO-Central conducted regular inspections on the two tunnels in September, but hammering tests during the checks did not cover entire ceilings.
The operator will begin work on Sunday to remove ceiling panels from the outbound tunnel, aiming to reopen it to traffic in both directions by the end of this month.
The Sasago Tunnel averages 40,000 to 50,000 vehicles in both directions daily. Local communities have requested the tunnel reopen early, as there has been an increase of traffic on nearby roads.
"We decided to reopen as soon as possible while ensuring safety, as the closure's negative effects are spreading," NEXCO-Central Senior Managing Officer Akira Hirose said.
(Dec. 9, 2012)