Central Tokyo Highways are a great site, built high above the ground, winding past apartment and office windows through the over-developed city below.
Despite a great subway and train system, roads are still an important part of transport for the city. The roads in Tokyo have struggled to find room to accommodate the growth of traffic and have had to therefore build highways in the sky and sometimes also tunnels underground.
A road called the Central Circular Route has been under planning and construction for a long time now, and is almost coming to completion. It will link Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Ohashi Junction (just below Shibuya) so that passage from Ikebukuro to the Tomei and Chuo Freeways is made much easier.
The Circular Route will later continue under Yamate Dori and join up with highways heading for Haneda Airport at Ooi Junction.
Some of the construction on this route is quite amazing to consider.
The road has been made by advanced tunneling machinery.
There have been a number of tours open for people to go inside and take photographs. The last one was a special premium tour for bloggers. Unfortunately I missed it or you would probably be scrolling down another set of 35 photos here.
The Circular Route between Shinjuku and Ohashi Junction is underground. To expel the exhaust fumes from the tunnel, tall chimneys have been built along the route. You can see these white chimneys in the photos I took recently from the Carrot Tower in Sangenjaya (close to Shibuya).
I am not sure what explanation residents along the route got about the exhaust chimneys, but I can not imagine they were too happy to hear about their construction.
The Ohashi Junction Loop is also quite an engineering feat. The loop road need to bring the cars from 35 metres underground out of the tunnel to 35 metres above ground to reach Highway 3, which is built above Route 246.
The loop line moving cars a vertical distance of 70 metres is a huge structure. Its area is so large it could contain a normal size soccer pitch measuring 170 metres by 110 metres.
The route is planned to open next year in March.