Tokyo/ Olympics 1964/ II Objectives of Massive Expressway Development Plan in 1960s

Generally speaking, the following are considered as the means of resolving the traffic congestion in a city: the improvement of ordinary roads, the construction of grade-separated intersections, traffic regulations such as one-way control, etc. But none of these is a decisive solution. For the highly agglomerated areas in Tokyo the difficulties of expropriation and continuously rising land prices require a number of years of construction and tremendous investments.

Thus, to make the traffic flow smooth in a city, roads exclusively for cars, separated from ordinary roads and intersections, were proposed. From this proposal developed the theory of successive grade-separated intersections: the Urban Expressways in Tokyo.

The primary object of urban expressways, therefore, is to attain efficient traffic flow; the increase of running speed is merely a secondary aim. In this sense they have quite different characteristics from the long-distance expressways, whose object is to connect cities in a shorter time. This is in line with the strategic model of Tokyo Olympics 1964, which facilitates inner-city poly-clustering.

The six theoretical models of Olympic site integration to the host city

After extensive research and examination, such as 0-D surveys, traffic volume counts, projection of vehicle numbers in the future, etc., the network of urban expressways with a total length of about 70 kilometers was decided upon in 1959. Several routes having been added afterward, the total length amounts to 103 kilometers at the present time. Construction is being carried out by the Tokyo Expressway Corporation. The completion of the important routes on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics 1964 was especially remarkable. As the result, a 32-kilometer section of the expressway from Haneda Airport to Shinjuku via the central district has been put to use.

Actual development of Metropolitan Expressway from 1960s onwards
Timeline of early development of urban expressway


Yet, the plan did not stop here. As mentioned before, the development plan is long-term, which the fact that those urban expressways, both completed and planned, will not be enough to cope with the future traffic demand is realised. The proposed number of inter-city freeways which run through the country run merely in radial directions out into the outer fringe of the Ward Area

In the next step, to distribute long-distance traffic on the inter-city freeways into the Ward Area smoothly and to realize the multi-focus urban structure, existing urban expressway planning is to be improved, so that the urban expressway network may connect each district organically.

First, the Outer Ring Expressway is planned on the outer fringe of the Ward Area, nearly 15 kilometers from the center, to connect the inter-city freeways. An Inner Ring Expressway will be planned on a circle of approximately 8 kilometers as a coupler of subcenters. All radial expressways which end at the subcenters will be extended to the Outer Ring Expressway. The nature of traffic in Tokyo is more intensely centralized than that of New York and Chicago because of its urban structure. Although the economic value of the Outer Ring Expressway would be low, it should be utilized for bringing about a reorganization of the urban structure of Tokyo by locating subcenters, auxiliary subcenters and synthetic centers for distribution along its route in the future.

Future expressway plan of Tokyo, 1964 MASAO YAMADA, Director, Bureau of Capital City Development, Tokyo Metropolitan Government

1 Comment on “Tokyo/ Olympics 1964/ II Objectives of Massive Expressway Development Plan in 1960s

  1. The analysis of the urban planning direction regarding infrastructure construction and the focus of budgetary deployment for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Game is good. Moreover, the interpretation of the planning of urban expressway network is well integrated with the models of urban structure and closely related to the urban transformation in a systematically view. I also intriguing about the negative aspects of such road network planning strategies and Olympic urbanization on the urban transformation.

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