World’s highest expressway successfully completed in China - Economy & Society - Tibetol

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World’s highest expressway successfully completed in China
update:October 20,2017
October 20, 2017 -- Despite its short length of just 40.4 kilometers, the completion of Xunlong expressway, located in Xunhua Sala Autonomous County and Hualong Hui Autonomous County in northwest China’s Qinghai province, is of great significance. 

October 20, 2017 -- The completion of Xunlong expressway means Xunhua, the only Sala Autonomous County, has its first expressway. Photo/Han Long

October 20, 2017 -- Xunlong expressway. Photo/Han Long

October 20, 2017 -- Located in Xunhua Sala Autonomous County and Hualong Hui Autonomous County, Xunlong expressway started to build in 2004 with an estimated investment of 4.592 billion yuan. Photo/ Ma Chenglong
The construction of the expressway has overcome severe difficulties caused by geological conditions and environment protection requirements. The hardest part of 15 kilometers long lies in Gongboxia Reservoir which features dangerous geographical conditions such as landslides. To protect the local ecological environment, constructors had to spend additional dozens of millions yuan to alter the original construction plan to build more bridges and tunnels.  
Perennial frozen earth layer is another challenge confronted by the constructors. Cao Xiaoyong, head of the Tunnel and Underground Engineering Design Institute, First Highway Consultant Co. Ltd, said the length of the perennial frozen earth layer that the expressway has to pass through reaches 10 kilometers and it is impossible to bypass it. To build a qualified expressway on the perennial frozen earth layer, after repeated experiments, constructors use stoves to achieve heat preservation.  
To build a tunnel under a snow mountain, constructors have to work in an environment with a temperature of less than 40 degree centigrade for 3 years. Li Shidong, manager of the tunnel project, said:” I can’t say our technology is the most advanced, but we have successfully dug the tunnel with the highest altitude in the world after 1,200 days’ efforts and solve the global challenge of building tunnels on perennial frozen earth layer. This represents the wisdom of Chinese.”
The construction of the expressway is just an epitome of China’s expressway construction. For five years since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China’s expressway mileage has reached 131,000 kilometers from 96,000 kilometers, ranking the first in the world.  
By: Shi Dongdong
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