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Motorists warned of month-long traffic woes

By Dong Zhen (Shanghai Daily)

17:02, January 04, 2012

Drivers are feared to face extreme congestions this month cruising local roads due to combined influences of the cold weather, the Spring Festival travel peak as well as changes caused by some major traffic projects, said the city traffic watchdog.

One influence will be caused by ending of toll collection on the Shanghai-Jiading Expressway. The road also named S5 is the oldest highway facility on Chinese mainland. In response to mounting appeals which has lasted for nearly a decade, local government had announced it finally toll free to all vehicles starting January 1.

The road authority feared the big "toll-free" attraction will push up traffic by up to 40 percent during peaks among the recent months.

The prediction is proven by the long lines of sedans, buses and trucks this morning on S5 on the first work day since the toll removal.

The highway authority said traffic started to peak at around 7:40am and soon vehicles were seen lining up for more than one kilometer in front of the entry booths. Traffic pressure did not ease until 9am, bringing an extra 20 percent turnover volume compared to previous morning rush period, authority said.

"The highway was operating close to full capacity on daily basis and congestion was already serious. Drivers are now feared to run into further prolonged wait time to pass this highway because of the sudden traffic hike stimulated by the new toll policy," said Yan Jionghao, director with Shanghai Highway Administration.

As more out-of-town vehicles will be attracted, the ordinary local roads in the nearby region will also be placed under heavier pressure. Traffic between the Outer Ring Road and the Qilianshan Road is estimated to suffer the heaviest influence.

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