Road network nearing completion

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-19 07:30

A 35,000-km-long national network of trunk roads designed to connect more than half of the country's 1.3 billion people, is nearing completion, a senior official said Tuesday.

Weng Mengyong

Built over the past two decades at a cost of 900 billion yuan ($122 billion), the transport system includes five major roads linking north and south and seven joining east and west.

The network stretches from the Mongolian and Russian borders to the Tibet Autonomous Region and the fringes of Southeast Asia, Weng Mengyong, vice-minister of communications, said at a press conference in Beijing Tuesday.

About 800 km of roads in the mountainous regions of Guizhou and Yunnan provinces should be completed before next June, he said.

The roads, which connect all cities with populations of 1 million or more and 93 percent of those with between 500,000 and 1 million people, are of "national significance in terms of politics, economy and national defense", Weng said.

He said the network, 76 percent of whose roads are highways, also lays the basic structure for a national highway system.

Based on a plan launched in 2004, within 30 years, China's national highway system will span 85,000 km and be world's second largest, he said.

The world's longest highway network is in the United States. Its construction began in the 1950s and, as of 2005, it covered 90,000 km.

"So far, half of China's national highway network has been completed," Weng said.

Including local freeways, the country has 53,000 km of highways, up from 45,400 km last year.

On completion, the highway network will connect all cities with populations of 200,000 or more, Weng said.

The ministry will also continue to build more roads for farmers in remote and poor western regions, Dong Xuebo, director of the ministry's planning division, said.

Half of the government's funds for rural road construction has been spent on western regions, Dong said.

By 2010, every small town and a number of administrative villages in western China will also be reachable via sealed (properly surfaced) roads, while all administrative villages in the eastern and mid-regions will be accessible by road by that time, he said.

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