The first-phase of China's largest waterway-dredging project since 1949 passed an official appraisal Sunday.
The project aims to improve the efficiency of Yangtze navigation started in January 1998 by clearing the deep-water route at the mouth of the Yangtze River.
The first-phase project cost a total of 3.1 billion yuan (US$373.49 million) to increase the depth of the waterway from seven meters to 8.5 meters. Trial operations on the upgraded river route started in 2000.
The Yangtze is China's largest river. Silt build-up at the river mouth over the years caused a bottleneck in navigation in the 1990s.
The first-phase project has not only reduced silt, but also upgraded the one-way route into a two-way channel. The waterway can now handle up to 76 ships every day.
Approved by the State Council, the second-phase construction has just started. As a result of the project, the efficient river route will serve as an outlet to the rest of the world for China's inland provinces.
（Xinhua News Agency September 23, 2002）