An expressway linking ancient capital city of Xi'an with
Hanzhong City in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, a vital communication line
for exploitation of underdeveloped regions in western China, opened
to traffic on Sunday.
The expressway, stretching 255 kilometers, runs through three
cities and nine counties in southern Shaanxi. It went into
construction in 2002 and was regarded as one of China's toughest
projects including 540 bridges and 136 tunnels. It costs 13.8
billion yuan to build.
Nearly 70 percent of the expressway meanders amid Qinling
Mountains, the habitat of giant panda and other valuable animal and
To keep away from giant panda habitat and state-listed protected
zones for endangered plants and animals, construction experts,
after repeated discussions, decided to alter the original route,
which extended the road length by 30 kilometers.
The Change of route increased project investment by 1.5 billion
yuan (about US$200 million), said Wang Hang, a manager in charge of
"Although it adds difficulties to the construction, it is
worthwhile for the protection of rare plants and animals," Wang
Apart from giant panda, one rare species is crested ibis, a kind
of bird which is believed only to wildly live in China since 1981
when Chinese scientists found seven wild birds in Yangxian County
in northwest of the country. To date, the number of crested ibis
has surpassed 1,000, including 512 artificially-bred birds.
(Xinhua News Agency October 1, 2007)