Bund to have 4b yuan facelift for World Expo
Bill Savadove in Shanghai
Shanghai will soon start the first major infrastructure improvements to the Bund in nearly two decades, giving the historical waterfront district a 4 billion yuan makeover before the World Expo in 2010.
The project includes building a 3.3km tunnel under the Bund to reduce traffic congestion, renovating the century-old Waibaidu Bridge and demolishing a massive exit ramp for the elevated highway at the southern end.
'There's going to be a new Bund waterfront. There's been a realisation with 2010 that the waterfront is still an important part of Shanghai's image,' said historian Peter Hibbard, author of the book The Bund Shanghai.
The project had been rumoured for months and preparation work had started on the Bund, but the government had not released details until this week.
Shanghai is trying to beautify its waterfront before the World Expo, which the city will host at a site on both banks of the Huangpu River.
The government has also tried to clean up heavily polluted Suzhou Creek in hopes of using its banks for recreation and development.
The showpiece of the project will be a two-level tunnel stretching the length of the Bund from around Yanan Road, crossing under Suzhou Creek and emerging on the other side in the Hongkou district. The project is scheduled for completion by March 2010.
A spokesman for the Shanghai Engineering Management Bureau, which is overseeing the project, said the existing eight-lane road on the Bund would still be used for traffic.
'To welcome the World Expo, perfect the city road network and again reveal historical features, the Bund district is about to carry out a comprehensive renovation project,' the government said yesterday.
The tunnel will burrow beneath more than 30 protected buildings and the government says it has taken steps to monitor and minimise its potential impact.
The city will give special attention to the Astor House Hotel and Shanghai Mansions, once known as Broadway Mansions.
In 2003 an underwater tunnel for a metro line under construction flooded and caused nearby buildings to sink. Land subsidence is a major concern for Shanghai, given its location and density of buildings.
'There's going to be a lot of movement in that fluid base on which these buildings are standing. There's always the threat if you are doing large-scale excavations in the vicinity,' Mr Hibbard said.
As part of the project, the city will remove the entire Waibaidu Bridge next month, carry out repairs at a local shipyard and return the structure to its original location in March next year.
Engineers estimate the bridge will last another 50 years after reinforcement.
Local residents have been flocking to the old bridge to take photos before it disappears. The current steel bridge was built in 1907, but the earliest bridge across the mouth of Suzhou Creek in the same location dates to the 1850s.
Later this month, workers will also dismantle a 400-metre section of the Yanan Road elevated highway to make way for the tunnel. It will eventually be replaced by a smaller ramp.
The entire project will substantially worsen traffic in the area before completion.
Some tenants along the Bund have complained about the disruption to business from construction, since access to their entrances will be restricted.
But many view the temporary inconvenience as a step on the way to restoring the Bund to its former glory.
'When all the work is complete, the Bund of the future will inspire even more visitors and locals alike to visit one of the great lifestyle hubs of Asia,' said Alan Hepburn, managing director of Three on the Bund, the restaurant and retail complex in the former Union Assurance building.