Plans to ease highway gridlock

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am

The transport minister has proposed building a new road near Beijing to ease bottlenecks on highways connecting Beijing, Inner Mongolia and Tibet that have resulted in traffic jams up to 120 kilometres long.

Minister of Transport Li Shenglin said the ministry had put forward several plans to solve the massive problem, including one for a 25-kilometre auxiliary road near Beijing to ease traffic along the busiest section of National Highway No 110, Beijing News reported.

The report said the ministry would also press local governments to accelerate construction of a 150-kilometre expressway in Zhangjiakou , Hebei province.

A month of persistent gridlock had prompted state media to accuse authorities of poor design and traffic control.

Since early August, gridlock has meant that vehicles have taken several days to travel along the 120-kilometre stretch near Beijing and Zhangjiakou. The congestion prompted a public outcry and was widely reported by mainland and international media.

Traffic had begun clearing along the choked section since Friday and just as media outlets were beginning to applaud the efforts, reports last night said the section again had heavy traffic.

Two-thirds of the vehicles stuck on the Zhangjiakou section were trucks taking coal from Inner Mongolia to the capital and the energy-hungry coast.

Beijing News said the Hebei government was also studying a plan to build a railway line specifically to transport coal from Inner Mongolia to other parts of the country.

The Zhangjiakou Road Transportation Bureau said the area had endured massive traffic jams since 2005. In the most serious case, 100,000 people were stranded in 30,000 vehicles for up to 34 days.