Friday, May 11, 2007

Tunnel construction and other (re)development

Just south of the Han River in Banghwa-dong is the mountain in the center of the photo below, Chihyeonsan. The orderly rows of apartments, the schools, and the park were built over fields and completed by 1994. The more cluttered, smaller housing on either side of the mountain are the remains of two villages, Chihyeon-ri (left) and Jeonggok-ri (right), which have existed there for, perhaps, centuries (I'll post much older photos of this area another time).

If you compare the 'villages' (they're known today as Chihyeon Maeul and Jeonggok Maeul) in the photo above, taken perhaps 5 years ago, and the photo below, taken a year ago, there are some differences, which I've highlighted.

Slowly, the former villages are being redeveloped. When the process is complete, it will still be obvious where they once stood, as the oddly shaped clusters of apartments, twisted into strangely shaped layouts in order to fit into the cramped space, will stand out against the orderly grid of the larger, planned development from the early 1990s. The latest redevelopment is outlined in red above, and appears below.

I took the photo above a few months ago, before they were torn down (they stood empty for some time, as seen by the tatters the blankets in the fencing had become). Much better photos, like the one below, can be found at this Korean blog.

The picture below was taken from the same viewpoint a few weeks ago:

I walked by a month or so ago and saw them in the final stages of hauling away the rubble, but didn't have a camera with me. Here's a clearer shot from a different vantage point:

The apartment complex above was built a few years ago (I remember it going up but never thought to take photos of it). Here's another shot of it dominating the skyline of Chihyeon Maeul (with Chihyeonsan behind it).

You might notice above, at top right, a construction fence with part of the mountain cleared away behind it. That's because they're building a tunnel through the mountain. The following photos are taken within the circled areas below:

The location of the tunnel is made clearer by this map (from 2003), where its future path i:

In this map of Bucheon's new towns, the road running from top to bottom at far right has an arrow pointing to Seoul at the top (this road runs through the center of one of the planned new towns). The road is not actually complete; there's a kilometer of farmland between the road that runs through Bucheon (starting at Yeokgok station on Line 1) and the bits of the road in Seoul:

The road is also interrupted by a military base (near Gimpo Airport) and by the Chiyheonsan. The part in Banghwa-dong was completed only three or four years ago (and doesn't show up in the 2003 mapbook I used above). When the tunnel is complete, the road will be connected to the Banghwa Bridge. This bridge was built to connect Seoul (via the Gangbyeon Expressway, which runs along the northern bank of the Han) to the Incheon Airport Expressway. The bridge does not connect to the Olympic Expressway (running along the Han's south shore), and is of no usefulness to to anyone living in Banghwa-dong. Once this road in Banghwa-dong is connected through to Bucheon and to the bridge, however, it will provide a wide corridor connecting these areas to the Gangbyeon expressway. The fact that two new towns are being built next to this future corridor should be of no surprise.

Above is the Banghwa Bridge, and the lane that suddenly ends on it will be connected to the northern end of Chihyeonsan, where excavation began recently.

On the southern side of the mountain, more progress has been made (mainly because construction began last August).

Below you can see the tunnel walls under construction, with the wall on the left in a further stage of completion than the one on the right.

Above and below are closer views of the tunnel wall construction.

Near this site, on the mountain, there are dozens of burial sites. The one below is directly next to the site, as you can see the fence behind it.

I have no idea why the statues' heads are missing.

Speaking of missing, when I walked over the crest of the hill after taking these photos, my bike was gone. I'd forgotten the keys to the lock, but since there were only a few middle-aged or elderly couples walking around on the handful of paths, I assumed leaving it for a few minutes would be fine. I was wrong. I heard some kids hooting and hollering somewhere in the area at one point, and my guess would be that they took it, though, of course, I don't really know that. Totally unrelated to the thief who stole my bike, my students once asked me to write these letters on the board: ILLHVHL . It took me a few seconds to understand why they were laughing so hard...


Jon Allen said...

Some great photos of the digging there.
You got right in close for some of them.

It's nice to see that at least not all the housing they are putting up is the same design of identical tower block there.

The bridge for the AREX railway is coming along nicely, I tried to get there last week, but the road I was walking along, at the western end of the World cup park, became the bridge over the Han with no route off it! There is one huge section of the bridge ready to go up on the northern bank by the look of it.

matt said...

It helped that it was a Sunday and the tunnel site was empty! I haven't seen the Magok bridge since the weekend before I took these photos, due to my bike's disappearance. I'll have to buy a new one soon...