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Expressway travel difficult on weekends, holidays

Date Posted: 2006-05-27

The Okinawa Expressway was designed to provide smooth traffic flow for decades.

An upwardly mobile society has put pressure on the Expressway, which runs from Naha City to the Kyoda-Nago area in the north, causing more frequent bottlenecks. The just-ended Golden Week spurred renewed concerns from traffic officials who witnessed bottlenecks more than four kilometers long in the Kyoda Interchange April 29th~May 6th. They’ve also observed heavy traffic daily at Nishihara Interchange exit each afternoon from 5~7:30pm as rush hour carries people home.

Still, the Expressway is a good deal for Okinawa drivers. The General Affairs Division says using the expressway costs Okinawans only ¥3,592 a month, the lowest transportation cost in the nation. The nationwide average for using expressways is ¥10,794 per month. They note Okinawa, which has no rail system to take pressures off the roadways, is still performing well. Even the railroads and subways in mainland Japan are packed many hours of the day and evening.

Another plus for Okinawa drivers is the ETC, the non-stop pass payment system which allows drivers to zip through toll booths without stopping. Officials say ETC is getting more popular, and more drivers are registering to use the system. The ETC is particularly helpful in weekends, because it’s users have a special toll booth lane at each interchange.

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