Xinhua. China has been building expressways at a frenetic pace. From 2001 to 2005 it added 24,000 new kilometers—4,800 kilometers/year. That total length of new expressways in China roughly equals the combined length of all expressways in Canada and Germany—the number three and four countries for expressway length—combined.
China’s expressways stretched 41,000 kilometers at the end of 2005, the world’s second largest system only after the United States. All the more remarkable considering that in 1988, China did not have an inch of expressway, according to Dai Dongchang, director of Transport Planning and Research Institute affiliated to the Ministry of Communications.
By 2010, China expects to have around 65,000 kilometers of expressway, and plans to increase that to at least 85,000 kilometers by 2020. The United States had some 90,000 kilometers in 2005.
After its completion in 2010, the Chinese expressway network will connect all provincial capitals and cities with at least half-a-million population, as well as some with population ranging between 200,000 and 500,000.
In coastal provinces, people will be able to reach good roads (not necessarily expressways) within half an hour of travel from their homes.
At least three major expressways will be built to link China’s major economic hubs such as the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Sea Rim areas before 2020.
The planned expressway network will also stretch to Hong Kong and Macao, and include the proposed Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. A feasibility study on a road link across the Taiwan Straits is also being conducted.
Some analysts predict, however, that given individual road projects that can be undertaken by local governments, China may surpass the US for total length of expressways by 2020.