Shin Tomei Expressway Project
Purpose and Objectives
The Tomei Expressway is a major artery that has made invaluable contributions to Japan’s economy, industry, and culture since it opened in 1969. But after nearly a half-century of often explosive economic development, traffic volumes have increased and the vehicles themselves are larger, so that most sections of the road face serious congestion.
The 162-kilometer Shin (New) Tomei Expressway provides a second mobility option to ensure the free flow of people and goods between Tokyo, the center of Japan’s economy, and Nagoya, one of its main industrial cities. The new highway was designed to:
- Dramatically improve reliability and service levels on the existing Tomei Expressway; Provide more resilient infrastructure in Shinzuoka Prefecture along the Tomei Expressway, National Highway No. 1, and Japan Railway’s Tokaido line, an area that faces a higher risk of landslides, typhoons, and other severe conditions; Revitalize the national and regional economy by speeding up the flow of people and goods between two of Japan’s major metropolitan areas.
- 162 kilometers with 12 all-electronic tolling points
- Construction cost of ¥2,571 billion (US$25.7 billion), funded mainly through the bond market
- 92% reduction in episodes of traffic gridlock spanning 10 kilometers or more, from 227 to 18 per year, based on combined volume on the Tomei and Shin Tomei Expressways
- 27.5% reduction in collisions involving human injury or death, from 521 to 378 per year
- 70% of through traffic diverted to the Shin Tomei, with 80% of local traffic in Shizuoka Prefecture remaining on the original Tomei Expressway, and larger, long-haul vehicles switching to the new road
- 13% increase in traffic volume within the region, from 73,000 to 83,000 vehicles per day
- 97% increase in commercial/industrial land transactions in Shizuoka Prefecture, from 37 to 73 per year, in the first year after the Shin Tomei Expressway opened
- 74% increase in the percentage of non-local tourists visiting Mt. Fuji Seseragi Park, from 23% before the road opened to 41% after.
Central Nippon Expressway Co. Ltd. funded construction primarily through the bond market, with the understanding that the Japan Expressway Holding Debt Repayment Agency (JEHDRA) would take ownership of the road and assume its debts after the project was complete. The agency completed the project on budget, and almost a year ahead of schedule. The leasing agreement between Central Nippon and JEHDRA ensured that:
- Project costs would be fully repaid with interest
- An essential project would be completed earlier than would otherwise be possible, while minimizing the burden on public funds and allowing a profit for the private concessionaire
- Users benefit from a flexible tolling system that offers excellent ancillary services.
The project gave Central Nippon an opportunity to acquire field experience with new technologies and systems that will now be applied on other roads in the company’s portfolio. The highway uses real-time camera footage and back office analysis to track road conditions and advise drivers of congestion, collisions, or obstructions on the roadway, via electronic signage and onboard systems.
The Shin Tomei Expressway runs on the straightest possible line through mountainous terrain. Central Nippon used state-of-the-art design and construction techniques to protect genetic diversity in the project area, incorporating design structures that would help prevent landslides and protect local ecosystems. The project relied on an innovative excavation method to build the large, cross-sectional tunnels the roadway required, and introduced a new, compact bridge design that featured long-span, lightweight superstructures.
Satoshi Naito, Section Chief