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Test to ease Olympic traffic jams held on Tokyo expressway to mixed results

The Gaien entrance to the Metropolitan Expressway is seen closed during a test on potential Olympics and Paralympics traffic easing measures in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on July 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Daiki Takikawa)

TOKYO -- With July 24 marking precisely one year until the Olympic and Paralympic Games begin in the Japanese capital, a 24-hour test is being conducted on the Metropolitan Expressway measuring the effectiveness of large-scale traffic control procedures.

The test, administered by organizations including the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, aims to ensure smooth transit of athletes and spectators to the many events during the real thing next summer. How traffic will be regulated during the actual event is to be decided after confirming the results of traffic jams in the test.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, 31 entrances to the Metropolitan Expressway were closed, including Togoshi on the Route No. 2 Meguro Line, and Sangenjaya on the Route No. 3 Shibuya Line.

Between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., the amount of traffic headed into the city was 70% lower than on the same day last year, with outbound vehicles also down by 38%. But, National Highway No. 246, which runs parallel to the expressway, saw a huge 171% increase in inbound traffic due to the measures.

Similarly, while the expressway's Route No. 4 Shinjuku Line saw an outbound fall of 50% and an inbound drop of just 2%, the volume of traffic on National Highway No. 20 was up 35% into the capital, and 64% out of the city.

The largest traffic decline, 95%, was seen on the eastbound Bayshore Route. Conversely, cases of congestion increases were also readily apparent, with rises of 233% and 24% seen respectively on the expressway's outbound Route No. 5 Ikebukuro Line and inbound Route No. 7 Komatsugawa Line.

Traffic controls were also in place at 118 intersections on Kannana-dori Avenue, where the time traffic lights stay green was shortened for vehicles traveling toward the city center between 5 a.m. and midday.

(Japanese original by Yuki Yamamoto, City News Department)

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