Starting midnight on Sat, Mar. 6, the eastern road of Sejong-daero by Gwanghwamun Square (in front of Kyobo Building and the US Embassy) will be transformed from a one-way road into a two-way road.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) announced that it will complete the construction for the extension and maintenance to make the eastern road of the Gwanghwamun Square a 7- to 9-lane road with two-way traffic by early March, and conduct the two-way traffic starting on Sat, Mar. 6.
The SMG is pursuing to turn Gwanghwamun Square into a “comfortable space to rest and walk,” reflecting the results of in-depth and broad communication with citizens. To minimize the inconvenience of citizens, the SMG is achieving the goal through a step-by-step process.
With the two-way traffic of the eastern road of the Gwanghwamun Square, the current western road—the road in front of Sejong Center for the Performing Arts where traffic passes from Gwanghwamun Junction to Sejong-daero Junction—will be transformed into a car-free park for citizens to relax. The SMG redirected vehicles going both up and down between Gwanghwamun Junction and Sejong-daero Junction to access the eastern road.
The western road will be included in the square by Nov. 2021 reflecting the wishes of the citizens. It will be transformed into a walking trail, connected to the Pedestrian Forest Path on Sejong-daero to complete the 2.6-km urban pedestrian trail that links Gwanghwamun Gate and Seoul Station.
The SMG explained that according to the analysis of the traffic flow before and after the construction of the eastern road of the Gwanghwamun Square, the traffic speed slightly decreased right after the beginning of the construction, but not to the point of congestion, and the speed is maintained almost as the same as the previous year (about 22km/h) (21.6km/h on average in 2019, and 21.9km/h on average as of Feb. 2021).
The SMG and the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency will continue to pursue transportation measures to maintain traffic speed and minimize the inconvenience of citizens. The traffic lights of 13 crossroads of 6 major roads that enter the urban areas, including Jahamun-ro and Seosomun-ro, and 65 crossroads that are influenced by the construction will be optimized to minimize traffic jam.
○ Urban outskirts: For 13 crossroads that are located on the border for entering downtown Seoul, traffic toward outskirts will be increased during afternoon commuting hours and traffic toward downtown will be encouraged to be dispersed or detoured during morning commuting hours.
○ Areas affected by construction: 65 crossroads within the construction zone (affected directly/indirectly) will be designated to respond to traffic congestion according to affected traffic and stage of stabilization.
In addition, a new detour to neighboring roads from Sajik-ro and Yulgok-ro, which join Sejong-daero, will open at the end of Feb. 2021. From the Sajik Park Junction (Sajik-ro), you can now take a left turn to both directions to Sajik-ro and Sajik-ro 8-gil and from the Gyeongbokgung Junction (Yulgok-ro, Dongsipjagak Junction), you can take a left turn to directly enter Jongno 1-gil behind the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.
The SMG will be promoting the two-way traffic of the eastern road of the square through online/offline media and introducing the detours. Banners and placards will be installed for the information at Sejong-daero, major main roads, and junctions. Information will be provided actively through GPS navigations used by drivers, radio traffic broadcasting, TOPIS (Transport Operation & Information Service), VMS (Variable Message Signs), and BIT (Bus Information Terminal).
Meanwhile, the SMG has plans to pursue the restoration of woldae (stone terrace) of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Gwanghwamun Gate in partnership with the Cultural Heritage Administration and create the new Gwanghwamun Square by 2023 without disrupting traffic flow.