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Clear road ahead to see province's green landscape

By YUAN SHENGGAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-09-04 09:07
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Shanxi province has a comprehensive road network. XUE JUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Road connectivity has improved substantially in Shanxi province with more highways and expressways in place, so local transport operators are devoting more energy to beautifying the environment and increasing safety for the road network, according to local industry insiders.

Li Wenjie, an executive of Shanxi Roads and Bridges Group who is in charge of road construction in Xinzhou city, said that the company's business is no longer limited to road construction and maintenance.

"We are now developing a new concept in road construction. We try to make the roads a part of the surrounding scenery and incorporate such functions as environmental protection, tourism and poverty reduction," Li said.

One of their efforts is to plant more trees and grass along the roads to beautify the environment, Li said.

Xu Hong, an executive of Shanxi Traffic Control Group, said the province began a greening campaign in early March.

"We conducted years of field research before the campaign, which indicated better vegetation coverage could not only make the roads more beautiful but also lead to a substantial improvement in road safety," Xu said."Vegetation can play an important role in preventing natural disasters such as floods, soil erosion and landslides."

The executive noted it is inevitable that the construction of roads will lead to decrease in vegetation in an area if ecological recovery measures are not taken during and after construction.

"During the field research, we identified all the areas demanding ecological repair by planting trees and grass," Xu said.

Since the campaign was launched, a total of 57,000 trees and 12,000 square meters of grass have been planted along Shanxi's highways and expressways.

Another effort to beautify the environment and increase road safety is to remove illegally erected adverts.

According to Zhang Licheng, an official at the Shanxi Department of Transport, many of the adverts were placed by local businesses without the approval of authorities.

"Some of the billboards have been there for many years. Once the supporting poles get rusted, they pose a big threat to road safety," Zhang said.

The adverts distract drivers' attention from traffic signs. He continued that, without rational planning and design, the billboards sometimes harm the local scenery.

To tackle this problem, Shanxi launched a campaign to remove illegal adverts along the roads in August 2019. The action was completed at the end of last year, with more than 5,100 billboards dismantled, according to the provincial department of transport.

Li Yali contributed to this story.

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