Shandong moves to boost transport infrastructure

( )| Updated : 2018-11-05

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The Weifang-Rizhao Highway. [Photo/]

The Weicheng to Rizhao section of the Weifang-Rizhao Highway, funded and constructed by Shandong Hi-Speed Group, officially opened to traffic on Nov 1, two months ahead of schedule. 

The completion of the Weifang-Rizhao Highway marks another breakthrough of provincial expressway mileage, now exceeding 6,000 at 6,057 km, after the previous milestone of 5,000 km in 2015.

The section from Weicheng to Rizhao totals 151.8 km in length and is the second longitudinal highway in the "nine longitudinal, five latitudinal, one ring, seven radial and multiconnected" highway network of the province. It connects with four latitudinal highways, including those of Rongcheng-Wuhai, Qingdao-Ningxia, Qingdao-Lanzhou and Rizhao-Lankao, accelerating the formation of the primary highway framework in the province. 

Thanks to the new highway, the travel time between Weifang and Rizhao has now halved to 1.5 hours. This is expected to attract more investments and business opportunities, reduce transportation costs, and rejuvenate the tourism industry of the two cities. It has also changed the status quo in which no highway existed in Anqiu and Wulian. 

The completion of the Jinan-Qingdao Highway in 1993 was the first breakthrough in Shandong's efforts in highway development, in which the province had been a leading player in the country - its total mileage topped the ranking for eight consecutive years from 1998. As of 2017, the province fell to eighth in terms of total mileage, and mileage per 100 square kilometers ranked a mere ninth in the country at 3.71. Two-way six-lane roads made up only 16.7 percent of all highways.       

In response, the province has set off on a new highway construction spree. Some 24 highways totaling over 2,000 km are under construction, a scale unprecedented in history. Of the 17 highway construction projects in the province this year, the ones between Jixian and Nanle, Longkou and Laixi, Weichang and Rizhao were completed ahead of schedule. The construction of six highways, including the expansion projects of Jinan-Qingdao Highway and Bingzhou-Laiwu Highway Zibo West to Laiwu section, are to be completed next year.          

According to the plan, the total mileage of highways in Shandong is to reach 7,400 km and exceed 8,000 km by 2022. By 2035, the mileage of road networks in the province is to reach 9,000 km, covering all counties (cities, districts) in the province. The number of slip-roads on highways is to ramp up to 27.  

In addition, two railways – those of Jinan-Qingdao and Qingdao-Yancheng – will open to traffic at around the same time, beefing up the "four latitudinal and five longitudinal" major comprehensive transportation network.      

"Transportation in Shandong is not just wanting in mileage. What's more important is the service capacity, which still has much room for improvement," said Wang Lin, dean of the Shandong Provincial Academy of Transportation Science, who maintains that the construction of highways in the province has entered a crucial stage with a focus on the improvement of service quality and efficiency. 

The batch of highway construction is important as it facilitates the conversion of new and old kinetic energies by increasing the density and capacity of the current highway network layout.