China is expected to start the construction of its the second highway running through the Taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in the country and one of the largest in the world, in May next year to boost economic growth in southern Xinjiang, said an official with the regional communications department.
The planned highway will link Aral with Hotan with a total length of 425 km. Construction of the project is to cost 834 million yuan (US$100 million) and be completed in three years.
The first highway traversing the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region opened to traffic in 1995. It proceeds from Lunnan on the north and meanders southward to Minfeng with a total length of 522 km, of which 440 km traverse through desert. It is believed the world's longest highway ever built on a shifting desert.
Compared with the first desert highway, the second one penetrates deeper into the desert. By integrating the highway network at Aksu and Hotan, it will become a highway trunk in southern Xinjiang, the official acknowledged.
Its construction will benefit oil exploration at the vast TarimBasin, comprehensive development of the Tarim River and economic development in southern Xinjiang, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2004)