A survey of transportation improvement plans for the entire 30 new large housing development projects in the Greater Seoul region that were designated in the mid- to late 2000s revealed that 86 (97 percent) of the 89 projects have seen delays. They include Phase 2 New Towns including Hangang in Gimpo, Okjeong and Hoicheon in Yangju, and Unjeong in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, and Geomdan in Incheon Metropolitan City. According to data from parliamentary inspection of government, infrastructure construction was delayed for more than 10 years in 21 projects (23.6 percent), while even the construction deadline has not been fixed in 13 projects (15 percent). Residents in New Towns who have moved to those cities in search of better quality of life are suffering due to hellish traffic jams for years.
Hoicheon New Town in Yangju has seen a National Road No. 3 expansion project delayed by more than 15 years, with the project now slated for completion in 2025. Gimpo Urban Railway (Gimpo Goldine), which will link Hangang New Town with Seoul, was originally slated for completion in November this year, but has been put off again to July next year. There is no viable public transportation other than ‘jam-packed inter-city busses’ for those residents. These fiascos occur mainly because the government, local governments, and project hosts come into prolonged dispute with each other over sharing of project costs. Since the ratio for cost sharing is not clarified under the current law, they end up getting into conflict over project expenses.
As for a regional road linking Wondang in Geomdan New Town, Incheon and Taeri in Gimpo, Gimpo City and Incheon have been in lingering dispute over project expenses. As a result, the road will only be completed in 2022, about seven years behind the original timeline. Meanwhile, project expenses snowball. Provincial and metropolitan governments, which have created sloppy regional traffic plans in the early phase of development projects, or those that push for economically unviable projects should also reflect on their mistakes. Residents in those New Towns who already paid for transportation plans in the price of their new homes are totally perplexed.
Residents in those housing projects who have already moved into their new homes in those towns where infrastructure construction has been delayed say, “We are effectively living in an uninhabited remote island.” The government announced it would create four to five New Towns and supply 300,000 new homes through a Phase 3 New Town Plan as follow-up measures for its September 13 real estate policy plan. However, if the government only develops those New Towns into ‘islands’ without expanding regional transportation networks, it will fail to achieve the policy goal of scattering Seoul’s population and stabilizing housing prices in the capital. The government should not force residents in New Towns to shoulder traffic burden by causing delays in infrastructure construction even after completing apartment complexes, like in the past when it simply concentrated on housing supply.