Roads play a vitally essential role as the most basic form of infrastructure supporting the lives of Tokyo residents. This role entails meeting the city’s enormous transport demand, while also serving as routes for evacuation and the delivery of relief supplies when a disaster occurs, in addition to functioning as a space to contain lifelines such as telephone, gas, water, and sewage lines.
Road improvement is key to alleviating chronic traffic congestion, Tokyo’s greatest weakness, raising international competitiveness, and realizing a city that is comfortable, highly convenient, and has a low environmental impact. Road improvement is also essential to transforming Tokyo into a highly disaster-resistant city. Roads safeguard the functions of the capital when a major earthquake strikes in areas that include transport of emergency supplies and relief, and rapid restoration and recovery activities. Roads also form firebreak belts, creating a city where fire does not spread. As such, the Bureau is advancing road improvements based on the policies outlined below.
- To ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the Greater Tokyo Area, the Bureau will develop the three loop roads, which support the social and economic activities of all of Japan, while also focusing on the development of roads that provide access to the loop roads.
- To form the backbone of Tokyo’s road network, the Bureau will focus on the development of ring roads and radial roads in the ward area, roads that run north-south in the Tama area, and roads that run east-west linking the ward area to the Tama area, and bridges.
- To protect the lifestyle and ensure the safety of Tokyo residents, the Bureau will enhance the living environment in urban areas, developing arterial roads which ensure the smooth flow of traffic locally. In other areas, including the mountains and islands of Tokyo, the Bureau will construct roads that enhance the livelihood of local residents and promote the development of industry.
- To facilitate the smooth flow of traffic on roads and raise the level of safety of both roads and railways, the Bureau will promote the construction of facilities related to intersections and road safety, as well as the conversion to grade-separated railway crossings.
- The Bureau will construct city-planned roads to enhance the level of disaster resistance in areas with close-set wooden houses (Development Districts), which are likely to suffer major damage in the event of an earthquake.
Average Daily Traffic Volume
FY2010 National Road and Traffic Report
Average travel speed during peak traffic hours in comparison with other cities
FY2010 National Road and Traffic Report
Construction of the Three Loop Roads
Reducing CO2 emissions
By completing construction of the Three Loop Roads, the positive environmental effect is estimated to be a 2 to 3 million ton reduction in CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the amount of CO2 trees covering an area the size of the Tokyo Metropolis are capable of absorbing.
Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Central Circular Route
Of the Three Loop Roads, the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Central Circular Route, with a total length of approximately 47 km, runs closest to the center of Tokyo. By diverting and dispersing traffic from the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Inner Circular Route, the Central Circular Route enhances effective use of the Metropolitan Expressway network, and helps to ease the chronic traffic congestion that concentrates in central Tokyo. The Bureau also aims to improve the roadside environment by ensuring the smooth flow of traffic.
Central Circular Route – Shinagawa Route
This portion of the Central Circular Route is approximately 9.4 km long, and runs from Yashio in Shinagawa Ward to Aobadai in Meguro Ward, linking the Metropolitan Expressway Wangan Route and No. 3 Shibuya Route. Currently, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is advancing construction of this section of road jointly with the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited.
Tokyo Outer Loop Road (Kan-etsu Expressway-Tomei Expressway Section)
The Tokyo Outer Loop Road (Gaikan) is approximately 85 km long and connects areas within an approximate 15 km radius from the center of Tokyo. By dispersing the inflow of traffic that passes through the center of Tokyo, the Tokyo Outer Loop Road will eliminate the chronic traffic congestion in the Greater Tokyo Area. Through the smoother flow of traffic, which will raise the traveling speed of vehicles on the road, a large reduction in emissions is expected, helping to create a highly comfortable and convenient city.
For the 16 km section that runs between the Kan-etsu Expressway and Tomei Expressway, a deep-bore tunnel structure has been adopted in order to minimize effects on the living and natural environment in the area along this section of roadway. The project was initiated in May 2009, and with the aim of completion in 2020, the central government, East Nippon Expressway Company, and Central Nippon Expressway Company are moving forward with construction.
Starting in fiscal 2010, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government opened the Bureau of Construction Tokyo Outer Loop Road Oizumi Office in the Oizumi Junction area, and is carrying out activities entrusted to it by the central government, including the survey and acquisition of land.
National Capital Region Central Loop Road (Takaosan Interchange-Border with Kanagawa Prefecture Section)
The outermost of the Three Loop Roads, the National Capital Region Central Loop Road (Ken-o-do) is approximately 300 km long and runs at an approximate 40 to 60 km radius from the center of Tokyo. The roadway connects core business cities and distribution hubs with the Port of Yokohama, Narita Airport, and other transportation centers, helping to form the regional road network, and plays an important role in the further development of the Tama area and the entire capital region.
Of the portion that runs through Tokyo, the section extending from the border with Saitama Prefecture and the Takaosan Interchange (National Route 20) is open. The central government and Central Nippon Expressway Company is progressing with construction on the remaining section which extends from Takaosan Interchange to Sagamihara Aikawa Interchange, aiming to open this section in June 2014 (Sagamihara Interchange within FY2014)
(Junktion/Interchange names are tentative・Excludes sections already open to traffic)
Building urban highways
Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Harumi Route
The route is approximately 2.7 km in total length and runs from Ariake in Koto Ward to Harumi in Chuo Ward. The route will link traffic from the Tsukiji/Tsukishima and Harumi districts that currently uses the Inner Circular Route, as well as future traffic generated in the waterfront district, to the Metropolitan Expressway Wangan Route, improving the traffic situation in the area. At the same time, the route will promote the development of the waterfront, Toyosu, and Harumi districts.
The Ariake-Toyosu section opened in February 2009, and the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited is moving ahead with construction, aiming to complete the remaining Toyosu-Harumi section in fiscal 2015.
Development of city-planned roads in districts with close-set wooden hous
Districts with close-set wooden houses face a number of issues related to disaster-resistance, due to the large number of aging wooden structures and narrow roads (located within these districts). It is also stipulated in Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) damage estimates for an earthquake that directly strikes the capital issued by the FY2012 TMG Disaster Prevention Council that major damage, including large-scale fires set off by such an earthquake, is expected to occur in these areas.
As part of the Ten-year Project to Advance Fire Resistance in Close-set Wooden Housing Areas, the TMG has designated districts especially likely to sustain severe damage in the event of an earthquake, covering an area approximately 7,000 ha, as development districts. The plan aims to turn these areas into communities that do not burn and where fire does not spread by FY2020. In addition to promoting fire-resistance in built-up areas, the project is also advancing the development of city planned roads (designated routes for improvement) constructed by the TMG (28 sections approximately 26 km in length) which will effectively enhance disaster resistance in such areas as prevention of the spread of fire, evacuation, and relief operations.
In acquiring land for designated routes for improvement, the TMG has established support measures to assist property right holders required to relocate with rebuilding their lives, including loans at a preferred interest rate and consultation desks that utilize private sector businesses specializing in the area to field consultations on relocation and reconstruction, as it progresses with the project. In FY2013, consultation desks were set up in Oshiage, Sumida Ward (Radial Route 32), Yamato-cho, Nakano Ward (Auxiliary Route 227), Chihaya, Toshima Ward (Auxiliary Route 26). The Bureau of Construction will continue with construction of the designated routes for improvement, aiming for completion by FY2020.
Roads in the ward area
Development and improvement of the major roadways in the ward area, radial and ring roads, remains slow to progress, resulting in chronic traffic congestion.
Therefore, the Bureau is focusing on linking unfinished sections of ring roads and the arterial roads that connect the ward area to the Tama area. The main routes slated for improvements include Radial Route No. 5, Radial Route No. 7 (Mejiro-dori), Ring Road No. 2, and Ring Road No. 6 (Yamate-dori).
Ring Road No. 6 (Yamate-dori) is a major arterial road approximately 20 km long which runs between Higashi-shinagawa 2-chome in Shinagawa Ward and Hikawa-cho in Itabashi Ward.
A project to widen the section of Ring Road No. 6 that runs between Shoto 2-chome in Shibuya Ward and Kaname-cho 1-chome in Toyoshima Ward (approximately 8.8 km in length) from the current 22 m to 40 m is currently progressing in conjunction with improvements to the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Central Circular Route Shinjuku Route.
Upon completion of improvements, Ring Road 6 is expected to disperse the inflow of traffic that passes through the center of Tokyo and facilitate the smoother flow of traffic, while also raising the level of disaster-resistance and safety.
Ring Road No. 2 is a key arterial road that runs approximately 14 km between Ariake in Koto Ward and Kandasakuma-cho in Chiyoda Ward.
Development of the Toyosu-Toranomon section, approximately 4.8 km in length, is moving forward.
Ring Road No. 2 will serve to strengthen the link between the waterfront area and the center of Tokyo, facilitate the smooth flow of traffic locally, and bolster disaster preparedness by providing an additional evacuation route.
Redevelopment projects are advancing in districts such as Harumi, Kachidoki, Shimbashi, and Toranomon. In order to respond to the increase in traffic generated by these new developments, the Bureau is currently advancing road improvement work, as timely completion of upgrades is essential.
Roads in the Tama area
In the Tama area, main arterial roads that run north-south and east-west are to be laid out in a grid-like fashion.
While advancing the development of north-south roads, including the Chofu-Hoya Route and the Fuchu-Tokorozawa and Kamakura-kaido Road projects, development of roads that run east-west such as Tohachi-doro Road is also underway.
As one of the main north-south arterial roads in the Tama area, the Chofu-Hoya Route (14.2 km), which runs from Yanokuchi in Inagi City to Kita-machi 3-chome in Nishitokyo City, is an essential route on which construction is being expedited.
Completion of this route will be effective in the alleviation of chronic traffic congestion, enhancement of transportation convenience and the development of local communities in the eastern Tama area (Chofu City, Mitaka City, Musashino City, Nishitokyo City), further raising the level of disaster-resistance, and preservation of the local environment.
As part of improvements, a 10 m wide “buffer zone” will be created on both sides of the 16 m wide roadway to preserve the living environment along the route, making the road’s total width 36 m.
The buffer zone will combine belts of greenery, bicycle and pedestrian paths, frontage roads, and other features depending on the area, ensuring safe, pleasant spaces rich in greenery for pedestrians.