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China builds through expressway linking epicenter with outside on quake anniversary
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19:48, May 12, 2009

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· Anniversary of May 12 Quake
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A 26-km highway connecting Yingxiu town and Dujiangyan city, both hardest-hit by last year's massive earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province, was put through Tuesday.

The newly finished expressway, with two lanes in each direction, would help boost transport capacity between Dujiangyan and Yingxiu to better serve reconstruction in quake areas.

Previously, vehicles carrying reconstruction materials could only go to the epicenter area through a section of the No. 213 national highway between Dujiangyan and Yingxiu. Heavy traffic load has been hindering reconstruction efforts at the epicenter areas.

The expressway linking Yingxiu with Dujiangyan was ruined in the quake before it was put into use.

A pier along the expressway was ruptured, 295 meters of Longxi tunnel collapsed, and 1,931 meters of Zipingpu tunnel were severely damaged in the quake, causing a loss of 2.2 billion yuan (323.5 million U.S. dollars).

The expressway also leads to Wenchuan County through a second-grade highway linking Yingxiu town with the county seat.

Construction on the expressway started in December 2003 with an investment of 3.16 billion yuan. The expressway was nearing completion when the quake struck on May 12 last year.

Rebuilding of the project started in June last year and opened to traffic on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, a major power station in Yingxiu resumed operation. Three generating units at the Yingxiuwan power station would be able to turn out more than 700 million kwh of electricity annually with an installed capacity of 135,000 kw.

All three power stations under Yingxiu hydro power plant, including the Yingxiuwan power station, were destroyed in the quake.

Wang Youcai, head of the repair team from China's armed forces, which have frequently battled natural disasters, said they are working to put the other two stations back into use by May next year.

Reconstruction projects that began Tuesday also included new buildings of the Beichuan Middle School, one of the worst-hit schools in the quake, and a museum of the ethnic group Qiang in Maoxian County.

Reconstruction on a school at the epicenter -- Yingxiu Township primary school -- was started a day earlier, marking the beginning of reconstruction work at the small town razed to the ground in the quake.

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the May 12 quake in southwest China. President Hu Jintao attended a ceremony Tuesday afternoon held at Yingxiu to commemorate the anniversary.

Source: Xinhua

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