Construction started on the first tunnel crossing the Qiantang River in Hangzhou, capital of neighbouring Zhejiang Province.
After completion, it will be the second tunnel in the city and will operate as an important traffic link between two rapidly developing commercial areas in Hangzhou.
With an investment of 1.95 billion yuan (US$243 million), the project -- named the Qingchun Road Tunnel and undertaken by the Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Corporation (STEC) -- is expected to take 10 months to complete. The STEC was also involved in the construction of Hangzhou's first tunnel, beneath West Lake, two years ago.
The "shield-bored" Qingchun Road Tunnel will extend 5,352 metres from East Qingchun Road to Shixin Road in the city's Xiaoshan District.
With a 3,024-metre-section beneath the Qiantang River, the tunnel will have a bi-directional four-lane configuration, designed for traffic speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour. After becoming operational, it will allow vehicles to pass through the river in five or six minutes.
A shield-tunneller with a diameter of 11 metres will be employed to build the tunnel, the interior structure of which will be up to 10 metres high.
There are already six bridges crossing the Qiantang River, the biggest river in Zhejiang Province and dubbed its "mother river." With a length of 410 kilometres, the river is famous in China for its spectacular tides.
Another three bridges across the river are planned. The Qingchun Road Tunnel will be the first tunnel crossing of the Qiantang River after completion next April.
According to the urban plan of the Hangzhou city, the new tunnel will become a main artery connecting Qianjiang Century City with Qianjiang New City, linking two emerging business zones in the city.
In addition, the tunnel project, part of a broader river-related economic strategy, is seen by the local government as a way to facilitate transport communications between Hangzhou and Shanghai.
(China Daily July 3, 2006)