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Shanghai's century-old bridge to be renovated ahead of World Expo
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10:01, March 01, 2008

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A century-old steel bridge in Shanghai will be closed on Saturday for renovation ahead of the 2010 World Expo, according to the city's renovation plans.

Waibaidu Bridge, built in 1907 and one of China's oldest steel bridges, will be dismantled and rebuilt. The move is part of efforts to restore the city's famed waterfront under the Bund Refurbishment Project.

Traffic will be diverted to neighboring expressways and bridges.

Workers will start removing electricity and cables that run through the bridge before lifting and pulling out the steel girders with a barge. The steel portions will be transported to shipyards to remove dust and repair damaged parts.

The bridge abutments will also be dismantled for a complete rebuild. According to the plan, the restored span be reopened around March 2009.

Waibaidu, which translates to "outer free ferry-crossing", has been one of the major bridges in China's financial hub. It links the downtown and the eastern part of the city and spans more than 100 meters.

The crossing, also known as the "Garden Bridge", is not only a local architectural landmark, it is also emotionally linked with residents. It is called "Grandma's Bridge" by many and days beforeits closure, throngs of residents and tourists swarmed the span to snap photos.

The whole closure process, which starts at Friday midnight, will be broadcast live on the Xinmin website (www. xinmin.cn) from 10 p.m. Friday night.

In preparation for the six-month expo, Shanghai has budgeted 28.6 billion yuan (3.7 billion U.S. dollars) to transform the city. Outdated steel factories are being relocated and shabby buildings dismantled.

The city, which now has 150,000 foreign residents and receives 6 million foreign tourist annually, is readying itself to host 70 million tourists in 2010.

The event organizing committee forecasts more than 200 countries and international organizations will attend the 184-day event, more than the 120 countries that participated in the Japan 2005 World Expo.

Source: Xinhua

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