Taiwan Road Network

By | December 16, 2022

Taiwan’s road network is classified into four tiers:

  • 1: National Highways: 1 – 10
  • 2: Provincial Highways: 1 – 28, 61 – 88
  • 3: County Routes: 101 – 205
  • 4: Township Routes

According to wholevehicles, Taiwan’s road network is quite dense in the western coastal strip from Taipei to Kaohsiung, where most major cities are located and two north-south highways run parallel to each other. The central and eastern parts of Taiwan are highly mountainous, and here the population density is also a lot lower, and there are fewer main roads and almost no highways at all. There is a reasonable network of motorways around the major cities. There are no highways further south than Donggang.

Highways

Exit sign from after 2005.

Pre-exit notice.

There are seven highways in Taiwan, which are also known as Freeway or National Highways. There are two north-south highways that run parallel to each other for a short distance; Highways 1 and 3 with a length of 373 and 432 kilometers respectively. The other highways are a lot shorter, Highway 5 is 54 kilometers long and runs from Taipei to the southeast. Highway 10 is a 34-kilometer highway near Kaohsiung, Highway 2 is a 20-kilometer highway between Taipei and the airport. The other highways are shorter than 20 kilometers.

One highway is under construction, Highway 6 from Wufong to Nantou.

Provincial Highways can also be upgraded to highway standard, especially in and around major cities. These are called Expressway. There are 13 Expressways in the number range from 61 to 88. The same rules apply on Expressways and Freeways regarding slow traffic and headway. Only motorcycles with a displacement of 550 cm³ are allowed to run on Expressways, but not on Freeways.

History

Construction of the National Highways, all of which are Freeways today, began in 1971 and the design was heavily based on that of the US Interstate Highways. In northern Taiwan, the first section of Highway 1 was completed in 1974 between Keelung City and Jhongli City. Construction of the first section of highway was completed in 1978, from Keelung to Kaohsiung in the south.

In the late 1980s, the construction of other highways began. The northern section of the second north-south highway (Highway 3) between Hsichih and Hsinchu was completed in 1997. With the construction of Highway 3, a number of shorter branches were also built. Highway 3 was completed in 2004.

In 1997, a second 20-kilometer deck was built on the existing Highway 1 along Taipei, for through traffic. Construction of Highway 5 from Taipei to Yilan began in 1991 and was completed in June 2006. This highway contains a 12.9 kilometer long double tube tunnel, the Xueshan Tunnel. Freeway 8 and 10, which are east-west connections between Freeways 1 and 3, also opened in the late 1990s. In 2001, Freeway 4 opened.

A more impressive project was the construction of Freeway 5, which has the second longest two-tube tunnel in the world, the Hsuehshan Tunnel with a length of 12.9 kilometers. This highway was opened mainly in two phases in 2004 and 2006. At the end of the 2000s, various expansion projects were also started, especially in the Taipei region. Both Freeway 1 and 3 now have at least 2×3 lanes for most of the way.

Future

There are plans to make the isolated east of Taiwan more accessible through the construction of new highways. Its construction is complex and expensive due to the very mountainous nature of central and eastern Taiwan. The mountains here are more than 3,000 meters high and extend to the sea. The most concrete project is the extension of Freeway 5 from Yilin to Hualien. Plans for a further extension to Taitung and even Kaohsiung have been shelved due to high construction costs. There are also plans to extend Freeway 4 from Puli to Hualien on the east coast. A 15 kilometer long tunnel will be required for this highway. Current routes in Central and Eastern Taiwan are mountain roads with hairpin bends and narrow sections. The average speed is therefore very low. An advantage is that there are few places along the roads here. The population of Taiwan is highly concentrated along the west coast and some flat areas of the east coast.

Toll

Road number of a National Highway.

Road number of a Provincial Highway.

Taiwan has an open toll system, with toll stations every 30 to 40 kilometers on the long highways. There are no more exits after a toll booth is announced, in order to avoid toll avoidance, the driver must be familiar with the locations of the toll booths to avoid the toll. All toll stations also have a weighbridge where trucks are weighed while paying tolls.

Only pre-paid payments are accepted in the leftmost toll gates, the right toll gates have the usual cash payments. Pre-paid tickets are available in many places, such as large supermarkets.

The toll for a passenger car is 40 Taiwan dollars, 50 for a truck and 65 for longer combinations. No toll is levied on public holidays and other exceptionally busy days to prevent congestion.

Main roads

The other main roads are the Provincial Highways, more recently also called Taiwan Highways. These form a national network in the number range from 1 to 28. County Routes form the underlying layer and have little through importance, connecting suburbs with the major cities, and villages with the larger towns. Township Routes are even less important and are numbered by county.

In the interior of Taiwan there are several high-altitude roads, several roads are more than 2,000 meters above sea level and Highway 14 reaches more than 3,200 meters above sea level, of which a side road goes to 3,400 meters. There are few islands in the world with such high-altitude roads.

Signage

Signage on the Freeway 3.

Taiwan’s signage is heavily based on that of the United States, which is more common in Asia. The signage is green with white letters and is usually in both Chinese and English, although here and there, especially in the countryside, only Chinese signs have been placed.

Exits are announced 2 kilometers in advance with the name of the exit and the exit number. At one kilometer this is repeated, saying “right lane” if the exit turns to the right, as is usually the case. A third sign follows after a few hundred meters with an arrow and possibly an arrow on the road surface if it concerns an exit-only exit, where the lane continues in the exit without an exit lane.

Road numbers for the National Highways are indicated in flower form, a white shield with 5 blades, a green frame and the road number in black letters without a prefix. Road numbers of provincial main roads are somewhat simpler, with a blue rounded triangle with a white frame. Provincial Expressways have just filled most of this shield in red.

Maximum speed

The speed limit on highways is 110 km/h, but may be lower in mountainous areas. The speed limit for freight traffic is generally 10 km/h lower. In traffic-free conditions, the speed limit should be at least 60 km/h. The speed limit is enforced with cameras, but these are usually indicated in advance.

Road numbering

In general, even numbers run east-west and odd numbers run north-south. These numbers increase to the east and south, similar to that of South Korea or the United States. Major roads have a single digit number. There are more east-west than north-south numbers due to Taiwan’s geography.

Before the mid-90s there were only numbers 1 to 27 for provincial main roads. To reduce congestion on the freeways and other roads, 12 east-west Provincial Expressways were planned from 1992 in the number range from 61 to 88.

County Route numbers are zoned and run from north to south in the number range 101 through 205.

Taiwan Road Network