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Authority criticized for blocking access to bridge

By Tan Zongyang (China Daily)

08:22, October 15, 2012

Trucks pass through an abolished toll station at the south end of the Zhengzhou Yellow River Highway Bridge in Zhengzhou, capital city of Central China's Henan province, on Oct 9. Wang Zirui / for China Daily

An authority in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region has come under fire for partially blocking access to a bridge that only recently scrapped its fees.

Motorists wanting to cross the Yellow River say they now have to travel 3 km to use a toll bridge built in 2010.

"It cost a large sum of money to build that bridge, and it's still in good condition, so why block it and make us detour to a new bridge that charges even more?" a driver surnamed Wang who lives nearby was quoted as saying by China Times.

The bridge, which connects the cities of Wuzhong and Qingtongxia and is part of a major highway through the region, became toll-free in July, as the Ministry of Transport called for bridges and highways that had covered construction costs to be made free.

However, the on and off ramps for nearby residents to access a special lane that crosses the Yellow River have been blocked. The nearest alternative cross-river bridge charges drivers 8 yuan ($1.30), almost double what the older bridge used to cost.

"The lanes are closed due to safety concerns, which is the top priority for public transportation," said a statement posted on the regional transport department's website on Saturday.

In the statement, the authority said around 23,000 vehicles pass over the older bridge every day, adding that the huge amount of traffic presents hidden safety dangers to vehicles and pedestrians traveling in the special lane.

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