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Underground Roads to Ease Congestion

A 2,500-metre underground road network is expected to help ease traffic congestion in downtown Beijing.


The multi-million-dollar network, already under construction, will be 12 meters deep and situated in the main banking and finance area, Financial Street, where more than 500 companies are based.


When the roads are finished, people will be able to drive to the 20 office buildings in the street via the underground network.


It will also join the parking lots of the street's office buildings.


The aim is to help traffic flow more smoothly, said Lu Hong, deputy chief engineer of the Financial Street Holding Company.


Consisting of four underground roads, the network will join up with major streets such as the western part of the Second Ring Road and Taipingqiao Street.


It is expected that the road will be open by the end of next year.


Lu's company has invested nearly 300 million yuan (US$36 million) in the project.


Traffic jams are an everyday headache around Financial Street, where 530 companies are located. The area is expected to cover 3.36 million square meters by 2007.


"The underground system will help relieve the burden of roads above the ground," Lu added.


Safety has topped the construction agenda.


There will be nine staircases leading from underground to the road surface for drivers and passengers to use in an emergency.


There are pipes every five meters which will discharge smoke in case of a fire. There will be fire extinguishers every 30 meters.


Many academics have come out in favor of building underground roads to help solve the dire traffic problems in Beijing.


Qian Qihu from the Chinese Academy of Engineering was quoted last year as saying that Beijing should build more underground expressways.


Underground roads are far cheaper than subways, he pointed out.


Urban layout expert Yang Zhenhua said it is necessary to develop underground road systems as the ground area is limited.


He advised joining the underground road network to the subway.


Li Xuan, a Beijing resident who often goes to Financial Street for business, said he welcomed the underground road network.


(China Daily June 15, 2005)

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