It was reported the Hokkaido Government started to find any alternative route for Toyohama Tunnel according to the newspaper dated June 25, 1996.
Based on the news, I promptly sent an e-mail to its suggestion box which collects opinions from residents in Hokkaido through computer networks such as NIFTY-Serve, PC-VAN, etc. I proposed a request for further information on the report. The Government replied on July 3, and the below is an extract:
Quote// At inland area of Yoichi, Furubira, and Shakotan, there are several types of roads where cars can pass through: prefectural, municipal, forest, and agricultural roads. In addition, there are mountain trails and old national highways used till about 1955, and also trails created naturally after people made their way through a thicket. However, the current situation of such old roads which are mostly unused now is unclear. So the government has decided to conduct an investigation to prepare documents to grasp their overall conditions. Then, based on the investigation results, we are considering to discuss promptly if the roads are passable, and if there are any possible measures to make them passable as roadways. //Unquote
The above answer seems very promising to me. I would like to do my best to promote realization of this alternative route with a help from everybody.
This report showed the status of August 10, 1996 after a half year passed from the accident.
Some unstable rocks near the site were dropped down in August, and tentative repair of the tunnel is planned using the construction methods of steel-frame and expanded polystyrene, aiming at its reopening within the year.
A method for permanent restoration seems to be formally determined within the year after investigating safety of the current tentative tunnel, including possibility of a detour.
On the other hand, regarding a new road in Shakotan Peninsula, originally planned to open last summer or fall, there are several unsafe areas and no specific plan to open them yet. It may delay in next year.
The road was opened on November 1.
Compared with the last year, sight-seeing guests to Shakotan in summer was reduced about 40% by traffic. Early restoration and the formal declaration of safety are desired.
Hokkaido Development Bureau set up a committee to investigate causes of the accident, and on September 14, the committee submitted the final results (the sixth) to the bureau.
It says that scientifically it was impossible to observe the cracks inducing the accident and predict its risk that the huge rock was fallen down. It also says the excavation of the tunnel had very small possibility to cause the accident. Therefore, the final report did not refer to the responsibility of the bureau.
Officials commented that the bureau will announce its opinion as soon as possible after reviewing the final report from the committee.
From now, the bureau would like to move up to the next steps such as compensation to the bereaved families, a selection of the permanent route, an erection of the monument, and putting recommendations into practice, which was suggested in the final report to avoid another accident.
According to some reports by the press, the Hokkaido Development Bureau took the lead by itself in preparing the final report and it left a question in its selection process of the investigation committee members.
Hokkaido Police Department proceeded the investigation independently to pursue criminal liability, but it would take quite a time.
The above was written based on some newspaper reports.
According to some industrial newspapers, the Hokkaido Development Bureau was reported to determine its direction for a new tunnel as it will start excavation next year aiming at its opening four years later.
The new tunnel will use the half of Toyohama Tunnel (Yoichi side -- opposite side of the accident occurred) for some hundreds meters, then be excavated into mountainside without passing through Setakamui Tunnel as shown in the map of "Walking Along the Old Roads", connecting to Furubira, National Highway 229.
I don't know if this is the final route or not, but this is for your information purpose.
This is Toyohama Tunnel as of October 13, 1996. It is still restricted for one-way passage controlled by signal, and construction is going on in order to restore it as the condition before the accident.
Left view of the tunnel.
This view shows how the construction is underway from the left. The steel frame in the back shows the spot crashed by the huge rock.
According to Hokkaido Development Bureau's announcement, the tunnel will reopen on December 11, as it originally scheduled its opening within the year.
A group of the accident bereaved (The 210 group, which was named after the date of the accident, February 10) will hold the last memorial service at the site of the accident on December 10, 1996.
The tentative repair of the tunnel is scheduled to finish and it will become passable on December 11. Therefore, the group decided to advance the date from February 10, 1997 to December 10.
I will use the tunnel everyday and run over the site. I'm sure it will make the bereaved so sad.
At 6:30 am, December 11, Toyohama Tunnel has finished its tentative repair, and become passable again.
Ten months have passed since the day of the accident.
A few cars were reported to pass through the tunnel with blowing their horns. Every local resident is driving through the spot with a mixed feeling.
I hear Hokkaido Development Bureau will decide the route for a permanent use, and it is reported that the possible candidate is the new route written in "New Route for the Tunnel". I would like to express my strong desire for SAFE roads.
Because only you can build roads and we just drive on them!
On December 17, Hokkaido Development Bureau has announced the new route, which is similar to the route written in "New Route for the Tunnel".
The new route is designed by excavating a new tunnel at the mountainside divided from the tentative Toyohama Tunnel, and connecting to Setakamui Tunnel, which is the next tunnel of the Toyohama in Furubira direction. The total length of the tunnel will be 1.2 km.
This route is almost the same as the bereaved desire strongly and scheduled to complete within four years.
However, I think one more alternative route is necessary. A response to my question through the suggestion box of the Hokkaido Government says it is still under review. It may be a long-term plan, but I would like to request its realization strongly.
On December 29, a written statement of an expert opinion at the request of Hokkaido Police Department has been submitted to the investigation headquarters.
The contents of the statement was not opened to public, but Hokkaido Police seems to make a judgment if Hokkaido Development Bureau can be impeached for negligence judging from all the information including the statement, documentation submitted by the bureau, and what police heard from the local residents.
But the final decision will not be expected soon.
A wife who lost her husband by the accident came to my store today. I remember her lonely words, "This year I need to prepare the special dishes for the new year only for myself...".
On February 7, 1997, Hokkaido Police Department has decided to charge Hokkaido Development Bureau with criminal liability for the bureau did not take any appropriate measures by neglecting falling rocks occurred several times near the site before the accident.
One year has passed since the cave-in of Toyohama Tunnel on February 10, 1996. The victimsﾕ families are holding memorial services on the first anniversary of their family members.
Many cars of the press are observed here and there in Furubira, which reminds me of the accident one year ago.
Today, we can pass through the tunnel as before, and our lives of Furubira residents are back to normal.
Who should be blamed for this accident? What should we do as users of this lifeline road?
At the first anniversary, now I am trying to think about it again.
Do you think your roads are safe?
Never forget this accident!
So that your dearest persons will never meet such accidents.
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