Two northern sections of the Joban Expressway opened to traffic on Dec. 6, directly linking by road the Soma-Futaba area in the north of Fukushima Prefecture to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Inaugurated were an 18.4-kilometer portion between the Namie and Minamisoma interchanges in Fukushima Prefecture and a 23.3-km stretch connecting Soma — north of Minamisoma — in the prefecture and Yamamoto in Miyagi Prefecture.
The Namie-Minamisoma stretch was originally scheduled for completion in fiscal 2011 but construction work was suspended following the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. East Nippon Expressway Co. undertook decontamination work and repair of damaged portions in the following three years.
Three electronic boards showing the count of radiation have been set up in each lane of the Namie-Minamisoma stretch. A car drive between the Namie town office and the Sendai city hall now takes about an hour and a half, some 20 minutes quicker than before.