A 2,880-m underwater expressway tunnel that runs through the Huangpu River in Shanghai was put into use Saturday, which links up the 99-km outer ring road of the biggest Chinese city.
The tunnel, Asia's longest one underwater, has eight lanes and allows vehicles to travel at a maximum speed of 80 km per hour. Construction of the tunnel, formed with seven 45,000-ton tubes put together, costs 1.748 billion yuan (about 210.6 million US dollars).
It will help reduce traffic congestion primarily caused by container lorries, many of which are heading to or leaving the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in the northeast of the city.
The tunnel was jointly invested by Shanghai AJ Corp and Shanghai Huangpu River Bridge Construction Co.
Shen Xiufang, director of the Shanghai Tunnel Engineering & Rail Transit Design and Research Institute, the tunnel designer, said the 2,800-meter-long project sets a milestone for local construction.
"It marks the city's first use of submersion technology to build a tunnel," she said. "We adopted many new techniques in its construction, such as the noise-reduction design, and the escape and emergency facility."
Situated along the northern stretches of the city's Outer Ring Road, the tunnel, which includes a 736-meter-long submerged section, is comprised of three parallel tubes.
The completion of the tunnel also marked the connection of the 99-kilometer Outer Ring Road where total investment has exceeded 17.5 billion yuan (US$ 2.12 billion).
With the tunnel completed, Shanghai Ferry Co Ltd is considering closing its ferry line across the Huangpu River between Nenjiang Road in Puxi and Dongtang Road in Pudong. Currently, the ferry line is jammed with more than 3,000 containers lorries daily.
Elsewhere, construction breaks ground today on the work of the Xiangyin Road Tunnel, linking Xiangyin Road in Puxi with the planned Wuzhou Avenue in Pudong.
The 2.2-kilometer Xiangyin Road Tunnel, which has a total investment of 1.2 billion yuan (US$145.15 million), will become the sixth tunnel across the Huangpu River when it is completed by the end of 2005.
The Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co is the contractor on the project.
"Presumably, it would reduce the traffic burden on the nearby Yangpu Bridge by 10 percent," said Yang Zhihao, an engineer at the institute responsible for designing the tunnel.
Since the tunnel's Pudong entrance is close to a chemical plant, a new "water curtain" facility will be installed to block any possible poisonous gas leak, he said.