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New bay bridge to further power Yangtze River Delta
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China has planned to build a new bay bridge to incorporate more burgeoning cities and towns into the economic power house of the Yangtze River Delta, an official said.

The projected bridge will be the second to span Hangzhou Bay south to the economic hub of Shanghai, and it is expected to halve the journey between Shanghai and Shaoxing, the southern end of the shortcut in Zhejiang Province.

The plan has been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, and preparatory work has been completed, Shaoxing Mayor Zhang Jinru told a meeting for scholars of Shaoxing origin that was held in Shanghai on Monday.

The budget is 11.6 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion) and construction will start this year, according to Zhang.

The new bridge system will be 69 kilometers long, including a 12 km section above the ocean, and will start from Haining in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, in the north, and end at Shangyu, Shaoxing in the south.

"The projected new bridge will play an important role in incorporating Shaoxing and central Zhejiang into the Yangtze River Delta, especially bringing the Zhejiang regions within the Shanghai metropolitan ring of two hours' bus ride. It will also take advantage of the opportunities from the Shanghai World Expo in 2010," said the mayor.

Meanwhile, Chinese workers have completed the first bridge spanning Hangzhou Bay. This bridge, which links Haiyan, Jiaxing City to Cixi, Ningbo City, in Zhejiang Province, is 36 km long and is considered the world's longest sea-spanning structure.

The first part of the bridge, with a 32-km section spanning the sea, is a cable-stayed structure built at a cost of 11.8 billion yuan. It will cut the length of the trip from Shanghai to Ningbo by 120 km when it opens to traffic in March. It is designed to last 100 years.

(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2008)

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