URUMQI - Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Tuesday began construction on 17 new roads in seven cities rich in both mineral and tourism resources, the local government said.
The new road projects cover Altay, Changji, Ili, Turpan and Kashgar, which boast abundant coal, crude oil, nonferrous metal and other mineral resources.
Among the projects is a 100-km expressway linking to State Highway No 216, the highway connecting Altay to the regional capital Urumqi, as well as extensions of several provincial highways and an urban expressway in Urumqi, the regional transport bureau said in a press release.
Construction of another six roads is set to begin later this month, it said.
The bureau said the new projects were aimed at improving infrastructure, speeding up economic growth and making big cities more accessible from rural areas.
It said Xinjiang will spend 35 billion yuan ($5.35 billion) to build 7,569 km of road this year.
Meanwhile, the region has earmarked 150 to 200 billion yuan to build 76,000 km of road in the coming five years.
The transport bureau said road construction alone will create 338,000 jobs in Xinjiang this year.
"Meanwhile, these road projects would help increase locals' income by bringing in more tourists," the bureau said in the press release.
Xinjiang's total road mileage will reach 175,000 km by the end of 2015.
Xinjiang, home to about 21 million people, covers one-sixth of China's territory and is the largest Chinese region in terms of landmass.