Beijing eyeing underground spaces to cope with congestion

09:23, January 12, 2011      

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Plans to utilize underground space in different locations in the capital were released one after the other in recent days, as the city looks below ground for a solution to Beijing's traffic and development challenges.

Tongzhou district's urban planning bureau revealed plans Monday for a future four-floor underground complex for parking, commuting, businesses and utility tunnels.

On Friday in Chaoyang district, construction began on a similar five-story underground project in the Central Business District (CBD). The 600,000-square-meter facility has a government investment of 6 billion yuan ($906.30 million) and includes road circuits that will connect the Third Ring Road and Jianguo Road.

Meanwhile, in the Qianmen area, the Dongcheng government revealed Monday it will build a three-floor subterranean complex of 100,000 square meters for businesses and more than 3,000 parking spots.

"The municipal commission of urban planning is working on a new overall plan for the city's underground space development that will make modifications to the old one released in 2004," said Cai Xiangmin, head of the Beijing Research Institute of Geology.

The existing city plan no longer suits current conditions, Cai said.
"Beijing's underground plan will greatly help ease traffic congestion," said Yin Zhi, a profes-sor at Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute.

"These plans should be carried out earlier. We can't wait until the traffic system in Beijing becomes paralyzed and then start looking for solutions underground," Yin added.

Existing underground projects have been met with administrative challenges, however.

"With no laws or regulations at hand for underground development, underground constructions and management are quite a mess," Cai said.
"As far as I know, there are eight departments administrating the [existing] underground spaces, including the Commission of Traffic and Commission of Urban Planning, but no one is actually doing their job."

Additional questions regarding the safety of underground development and the risk to cultural relics also persist.

"As long as the constructions follow safety regulations, there shouldn't be a problem," reassured Professor Yin.

By Yan Shuang, Global Times
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