Hebei media have painted a rosy picture of a 940-kilometre expressway that will link the province with Beijing in 2015, even dubbing it the capital's "seventh ring road", but some residents are not impressed.
When completed it would be one of 11 highways linking the province to Beijing, boosting the development of an economic zone around the national capital, Hebei's Yanzhao Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.
But the news was greeted with scepticism, with some people questioning the claim that it would be a Beijing ring road, given that only a tenth of it would actually run through the capital. Others feared it would cause housing prices to rise.
Hebei transport authorities had signed an agreement with Beijing to work together to speed up construction of several highways that would connect with existing highways to form a big "outer ring road" around the capital, Xinhua reported.
About 90 kilometres of the road would run through Beijing, with the other 850 kilometres in Hebei, the provincial transport department said.
Hebei had completed about 40 per cent of its sections, the paper said. One 70-kilometre section was still being planned but work had started on the rest. Beijing's part, including two highways, was still being built.
Hebei authorities signed a framework agreement with the capital's municipal government last month to develop the Capital Area Special Economic Zone and pledged building a comprehensive traffic infrastructure to expand access to Beijing.
In the past few years, many Beijing residents have bought homes in Hebei counties on the capital's borders, such as Sanhe , Zhuozhou and Guan, because prices there were relatively affordable. But with the completion of the seventh ring road, some microbloggers complained, even homes in those places would be out of reach.
Professor Zhao Jian from Beijing Jiaotong University, said that instead of building a big outer ring road, Beijing should focus on the development of public transport, especially the subway system.
"It should build more subway lines leading to neighbouring Hebei counties, so that its population can be dispersed," he said.