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Underground link to the skies

Travelers will be able to avoid highway congestion and take the subway to Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport in February, based on current construction progress, the builder said yesterday.

The city-run construction headquarters for the Hongqiao Integrated Traffic Hub project is now building an 8.58-kilometer-long, three-station leg to extend Metro Line 2 to the airport. When the extension is finished, travelers will be able to arrive at the new East Station and take walkways to the airport's new terminal.

The new terminal building, built to the west of the current airport complex, will replace the old terminal and handle most flights when it opens around next February - in time to help accommodate the surge in air travelers expected to visit the city when the 2010 World Expo starts in May.

There will be a second Line 2 station inside the traffic hub complex, but it will not open until the World Expo starts or even later. That facility, the West Station, may go into operation around the middle of next year along with the opening of the hub's high-speed railway service.

Covering around 26 square kilometers and extending nearly 2 kilometers, the hub will feature seven levels, including two underground. It will encompass the airline terminal, Metro lines, high-speed train services to Beijing, Nanjing and Ningbo, highway and transit buses and possibly an extension of the magnetic-levitation train line from Pudong International Airport. There will also be multi-level parking lots, and all facilities will be connected by walkways and elevators. Most services are expected to be launched in time for the World Expo.

"It is not only the biggest but also the most technically complicated and demanding construction project of its type in the city's history," Jiang Fengchao, a project manager, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

A decision has not been made on whether Shanghai will extend the Maglev to the Hongqiao hub, but space has been reserved in case the project is approved, officials said.

(Shanghai Daily September 1, 2009)