Expressways of Japan

Last updated
Expressways of Japan
高速道路
自動車道
E4 Expressway (Japan).pngE4A Expressway (Japan).pngC4 Expressway (Japan).png
Expressway number signs for the Tōhoku Expressway, its parallel expressways, and the circular Ken-Ō Expressway
Japan National Expressway map.png
System information
Maintained by the Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency, through its subsidiaries (East, Central, West Nippon Expressway Company Limited), the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited, and others
Length10,021 km [1] (6,227 mi)
Formed1963
Highway names
ExpresswaysEnn Expressway (E1)
(primary route)
EnnA Expressway (E1A)
(parallel route)
Cn Expressway (C1)
(circular route) [2]
System links
National highways of Japan
Expressways of Japan
Junction of E1 and E1A, major expressways linking Tokyo and Nagoya in Central Japan TOYOTA Interchange on TOMEI EXPWY and SHIN-TOMEI EXPWY.jpg
Junction of E1 and E1A, major expressways linking Tokyo and Nagoya in Central Japan

The expressways (高速道路, kōsoku-dōro, lit. "high-speed road", also jidōsha-dō (自動車道), lit. "automobile road", "freeway", "expressway", or "motorway") of Japan make up a large network of controlled-access toll expressways.

Contents

History

Following World War II, Japan's economic revival led to a massive increase in personal automobile use. However the existing road system was inadequate to deal with the increased demand; in 1956 only 23% of national highways were paved, which included only two thirds of the main Tokyo-Osaka road (National Route 1). [3]

In April 1956 the Japan Highway Public Corporation (JH) was established by the national government with the task of constructing and managing a nationwide network of expressways. In 1957 permission was given to the corporation to commence construction of the Meishin Expressway linking Nagoya and Kobe, [3] the first section of which opened to traffic in 1963. [4]

In addition to the national expressway network administered by JH, the government established additional corporations to construct and manage expressways in urban areas. The Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation (responsible for the Shuto Expressway) was established in 1959, and the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation (responsible for the Hanshin Expressway) was established in 1962. By 2004 the lengths of their networks had extended to 283 kilometres (175.8 mi) and 234 kilometres (145.4 mi) respectively. [5]

In 1966 a plan was formally enacted for a 7,600 kilometres (4,722.4 mi) national expressway network. Under this plan construction of expressways running parallel to the coastlines of Japan would be given priority over those traversing the mountainous interior. [3] In 1987, the plan was revised to extend the network to 14,000 kilometres (8,699.2 mi). In April 2018, completed sections of the network totaled 9,429 kilometres (5,858.9 mi) [6]

In October 2005 JH, the Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation, the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation, and the Honshū-Shikoku Bridge Authority (managing three fixed-link connections between Honshu and Shikoku) were privatized under the reform policies of the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. These privatizations are technically converting the corporations into stock companies with no stock sold to the general public, since the Government of Japan hold controlling shares in the successor companies. The expressway network of JH was divided into three companies based on geography - East Nippon Expressway Company (E-NEXCO), Central Nippon Expressway Company (C-NEXCO), and West Nippon Expressway Company (W-NEXCO). The Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation transferred its authority to the Metropolitan Expressway Company, while the Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation transferred its authority to the Hanshin Expressway Company. The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Authority became the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company, whose operations are planned to eventually be absorbed into those of W-NEXCO. [7]

Finances

E1 Tomei Expressway near Atsugi Tomei-Expwy Atsugi.jpg
E1 Tōmei Expressway near Atsugi

Japan's expressway development has been financed largely with debt. It was intended to make the expressways free when they are paid off. The Meishin Expressway and Tomei Expressway debt has been fully paid off since 1990. It was decided in 1972 that tolls would be pooled from all expressways to provide a single source of operating funds, since some sections were little used. Earthquake resistant construction methods have added to costs, as well as extensive soundwalling. In March 2009 (then) Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a plan to reduce tolls to ¥1,000 on weekends and national holidays. Tolls on weekdays would be cut by around 30 percent. According to the National Expressway Construction Association, 4.41 million vehicles use the expressways daily, driving an average of 43.7 kilometres (27.2 mi). [8]

National expressways

A typical tunnel entrance for rural two-lane expressways with electronic speed limit and notice signs Mihakayamatunnel.jpg
A typical tunnel entrance for rural two-lane expressways with electronic speed limit and notice signs
Taga Service Area TagaSA.jpg
Taga Service Area
Toll gate on the E26 Kinki Expressway. The lanes under the arches are designated for ETC-capable vehicles only. Kinki Expressway Yao Toll Gate.jpg
Toll gate on the E26 Kinki Expressway. The lanes under the arches are designated for ETC-capable vehicles only.
E5 Hokkaido Expressway Hokkaido Expwy near Eniwa.jpg
E5 Hokkaido Expressway

National expressways (高速自動車国道, Kōsoku Jidōsha Kokudō) make up the majority of expressways in Japan. This network boasts an uninterrupted link between Aomori Prefecture at the northern part of Honshu and Kagoshima Prefecture at the southern part of Kyushu, linking Shikoku as well. Additional expressways serve travellers in Hokkaido and on Okinawa Island, although those are not connected to the Honshu-Kyushu-Shikoku grid.

Features

Variable speed limit signs used on expressways. Sign on the left denotes the limit for heavy trucks, trailers and three-wheelers. Shin Tomei exp JD19k11a.jpg
Variable speed limit signs used on expressways. Sign on the left denotes the limit for heavy trucks, trailers and three-wheelers.

Most expressways are four lanes with a central reservation (median). Some expressways in close proximity to major urban areas are six lanes, while in rural areas are constructed as undivided two-lane expressway. Two-lane expressway sections are built to a standard that allows conversion to four lanes in the future. [9]

Speed limits for passenger cars, motorcycles, and buses defaults to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) with a minimum speed of 50 km/h (31.1 mph), unless otherwise posted. The maximum speed limits for heavy trucks, trailers and three-wheelers are set at 80 km/h (49.7 mph). Vehicles unable to reach 50 km/h, such as tractors and mopeds, are forbidden from using the expressways. [10] The highest posted speed limit is 120 km/h (74.6 mph) [11] in some sections of expressways in Central and Eastern Japan. Variable speed limits are also in effect on most expressways and speeds are temporarily reduced due to adverse driving conditions.

Many rest facilities such as parking areas (usually only with toilets or small shops) and service areas (usually with many more amenities such as restaurants and gas stations) serve travellers along national expressways.

Route numbering

On October 24, 2016, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had introduced a new format of route numbering system for national expressways. [12] Expressway route numbers begin with the prefix E or C (for circular route) followed by their respective numbers. Expressway routes are numbered according to the parallel national highway routes; for example, the E1 Tomei Expressway runs parallel with the National Route 1. However, there are exceptions in this rule, and some expressways that are assigned with the two-digit numbers greater than 59 which are not used for the national highway route numbers. The E64 Tsugaru Expressway is an example of this exception as it parallels National Route 101. [2]

If there are more than one expressway being constructed in parallel with their respective national highways, newer expressways within the same corridor carry the suffix A at the end of their route numbers. For example, the Chūgoku Expressway and San'yō Expressway both run in parallel along the National Route 2 corridor and the San'yō Expressway is assigned the route code of E2 for being constructed first, and the newer Chūgoku Expressway is assigned the route number of E2A. [2]

Tolls

National expressways are expensive to use, with the 325.5 kilometres (202.3 mi) journey from Tokyo to Nagoya on the Tōmei Expressway costing ¥7,100 (roughly $70 or £50) in tolls for an ordinary car. [13] According to the Japan Times, expressway tolls in Japan are three times as high as in France. [14]

With a few exceptions, tolls on national expressways are based on distance travelled. When entering the expressway, one collects a ticket, which can be inserted along with the fare into a machine or handed to an attendant upon exiting the expressway. There is also an Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) card system installed in many cars which automatically pays at the toll gate. As of 2001 toll fees consist of a 150 yen terminal charge plus a fee which depends on the distance travelled. The rate of this fee depends on the type of vehicle as shown in the following table. [3]

Type of vehiclerate in yen/kmrate in yen/mile
Light car and motorcycle19.6831.49
Ordinary passenger car24.6039.36
Small and medium-sized truck29.5247.23
Large-sized truck40.5964.94
Special large-sized full trailer67.65108.24

Tolls are always rounded to the nearest 10 yen and include consumption tax. If there are two or more possible routes from the entrance to the exit, the toll will be calculated based on the shortest (cheapest) route.

Tolls collected from all routes are pooled into a single fund and are used to repay the entire network. [7] It is expected that all national expressways in Japan will be fully repaid 45 years after privatization (2050). [15]

Some future national expressways are planned to be built according to the New Direct Control System, whereby national and local governments will absorb the burden for expressway construction [16] and operate toll-free upon completion. [17]

Urban expressways

Shuto Expressway in Tokyo Shuto Expressway 01.JPG
Shuto Expressway in Tokyo
Yamate Tunnel in Tokyo is the world's second longest road tunnel Shutoko-YamateTunnel.JPG
Yamate Tunnel in Tokyo is the world's second longest road tunnel

Urban expressways (都市高速道路, Toshi Kōsokudōro) are intra-city expressways that are found in many of Japan's largest urban areas. Due to the nature of urban expressways going through dense urban areas combined with weak eminent domain powers in Japan, urban expressways have much lower design speed compared to national expressways and are constructed as viaducts or as underground tunnels along existing arterial roads.

The two largest urban expressway networks are the Shuto Expressway in the Tokyo area and the Hanshin Expressway in the Osaka area. There are other smaller networks in Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kitakyūshū, and Fukuoka. Each network is managed separately from each other (the Fukuoka and Kitakyūshū Expressways are managed by the same company but are not physically connected to each other).

Safety

In 2019, there were 163 Fatalities, 527 Serious Injury and 11 702 Sight Injury on Expressways of Japan, which is a performance still better than in 2018. [18]


Others

This sign indicates entrances to expressway-standard roads. Japan road sign 325.svg
This sign indicates entrances to expressway-standard roads.

All roads in Japan that are built to expressway standards (including national and urban expressways themselves) are known as Roads for motor vehicles only (自動車専用道路, Jidōsha Senyō Dōro). If a road for motor vehicles only cannot be classified as a national or urban expressway, it may be classified into one of the following categories.

Related Research Articles

Matsuyama Expressway

The Matsuyama Expressway is a national expressway in Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The expressway is numbered E11 between Kawanoe Junction and Matsuyama Interchange and E56 between Matsuyama and Uwajima-Kita Interchanges under the MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering.

Higashi-Mito Road

The Higashi-Mito Road is a four-lane toll road in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.

Tōkai-Kanjō Expressway

The Tōkai-Kanjō Expressway is a toll road in the Tōkai region of Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.

Futtsu Tateyama Road

The Futtsu Tateyama Road is a 2-laned toll road in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.

The Keiyō Road is a limited access Tokyo-Chiba toll road in Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.

Nikkō Utsunomiya Road

The Nikkō Utsunomiya Road is a toll road in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. It is signed E81 under the "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Chiba-Tōgane Road Toll road in the Greater Tokyo area

The Chiba-Tōgane Road is a toll road in Chiba Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.

Chitahantō Road

The Chitahantō Road is a 4-laned toll road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is managed by Aichi Prefectural Road Public Corporation.

Minamichita Road

The Minamichita Road is a 4-laned expressway, toll road in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It is managed by Aichi Prefectural Road Public Corporation.

The Odawara-Atsugi Road is a 4-laned toll road in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.

West Nippon Expressway Company

The West Nippon Expressway Company Limited, abbreviated as NEXCO West, is one of the main operators of expressways and toll roads in Japan. It is headquartered on the 19th floor of Dojima Avanza in Kita-ku, Osaka. The company was established on October 1, 2005 as a result of the privatization of Japan Highway Public Corporation. The company manages roadways mainly in the Kansai and Chūgoku regions as well as on Kyūshū, Shikoku, and Okinawa Island. Roadways in other regions of Japan are managed by East Nippon Expressway Company and Central Nippon Expressway Company.

Akita Expressway Expressway in Iwate and Akita prefectures in Japan

The Akita Expressway is a national expressway in the Tōhoku region of Japan. The 229.2-kilometer-long (142.4 mi) expressway begins at an interchange with the Tōhoku Expressway in Kitakami, Iwate from where it proceeds northwest towards the capital of Akita Prefecture, Akita. From there, it travels northeast back to another interchange along the Tōhoku Expressway in the town of Kosaka. It is jointly owned and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The Akita Expressway is numbered E7 between Kosaka and Kitakami Junctions and E46 between Kitakami and Kawabe Junctions under the MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Higashifuji-goko Road

The Higashifuji-goko Road is a 2-laned toll road linking Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company.

Nishi-Fuji Road

The Nishi-Fuji Road is a 4-laned toll road in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is owned and managed by Central Nippon Expressway Company. It is a bypass of National Route 139.

Kyoto Jūkan Expressway

The Kyoto Jūkan Expressway is a national expressway in Kyoto Prefecture. It is owned and operated primarily by the West Nippon Expressway Company and the Kyoto Prefecture Road Corporation. The route is signed E9 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Keinawa Expressway

The Keinawa Expressway is a 104.9-km-long north–south National Highway with access control in the Kinki region of Japan that connects Kyoto Prefecture to Wakayama Prefecture via Nara Prefecture. It is numbered "E24" under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "Expressway Numbering Systemg."

Kōchi-Tōbu Expressway

The Kōchi-Tōbu Expressway is an incomplete two-lane national expressway in Kōchi Prefecture. It is owned and operated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). The route is signed as an auxiliary route of National Route 55 as well E55 under MLIT's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway

The Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway is a tolled expressway that connects Hyōgo and Tokushima prefectures in Japan by crossings of the Akashi Strait and Naruto Strait. Built between 1970 and 1998, it is one of the three routes of the Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Expressway Company connecting Honshū and Shikoku islands. The route is signed E28 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Mei-Nikan Expressway

The Mei-Nikan Expressway, or Nagoya Daini Kanjō Expressway, is a partially completed tolled expressway in Japan. It is owned and operated by the Central Nippon Expressway Company. Upon completion, the expressway will form a second ring road around Nagoya in conjunction with the Isewangan Expressway. It is signed as C2 under the "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

Sakai Senboku Road

The Sakai Senboku Road is a toll road in Osaka Prefecture. It is owned and operated by the West Nippon Expressway Company. The route is signed E90 under Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering."

References

  1. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. "Toll and Toll-free Roads in Current Arterial High-standard Highway Network" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  2. 1 2 3 "What is the Expressway Numbering System?". Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Kimura, Fukunari; Maeda, Mitsuhiro (November 2005). "Transport Infrastructure Development in Japan and Korea: Drawing Lessons for the Philippines" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  4. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. "History of Japanese Roads". Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  5. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. "Roads in Japan - Metropolitan Ring Roads". Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  6. https://www.mlit.go.jp/road/soudan/soudan_10b_01.html
  7. 1 2 Mizutani, Fumitoshi; Uranishi, Shuji (2006). Privatization of the Japan Highway Public Corporation: Policy Assessment (PDF). 46th Congress for the European Regional Science Association. Volos, Greece. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  8. Nagata, Kazuaki (December 16, 2008). "A highway system that ever exacts toll". The Japan Times.
  9. "NEXCO-Central Business Outline" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-04-13.[ permanent dead link ]
  10. The Traffic Bureau of the National Police Agency (2001). Rules of the Road. Japan Automobile Federation. pp. 72–74.
  11. "新東名高速道路における最高速度120キロの試行開始について" (in Japanese). 2 February 2019. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  12. "Japan's Expressway Numbering System". Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  13. Zen-Nippon Dōro Chizuchō全日本道路地図帖[All-Japan Road Atlas]. Tokyo Chizu Shuppan. 2003. p. 155.
  14. "Japan's ever-increasing 'temporary' road tolls are here to stay". The Japan Times.
  15. "Framework of Agency's Business". Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  16. "Cooperation on New Direct Control System Sections (新直轄方式区間への協力 Shinchokkatsu Hōshiki Kukan e no Kyōryoku)". Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  17. "New Direct Control System (新直轄方式)" (in Japanese). Nishinippon Shimbun Wordbox. Archived from the original on 2009-06-29. Retrieved 2008-04-13.
  18. https://www.e-stat.go.jp/en/stat-search/files?page=1&layout=datalist&toukei=00130002&tstat=000001027457&cycle=7&year=20190&month=0