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Roadworks set to start on A8

More than 70,000 daily bus commuters will face congested traffic as a major project to expand the local section of the expressway between Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang Province launches later this month.


The Shanghai Transport and Construction Commission yesterday announced the expansion of the local section of the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway, also called the A8 Route, will begin before the end of December.


The stretch that will be affected connects the Xinzhuang area, a heavily populated residential center in Minhang District, and the suburban Songjiang District in the south of Shanghai.


This section of the road is used daily by more than 50,000 vehicles, which is already near to its full capacity, officials said.


Officials said the first phase of the project will continue until the end of April, during which time the route will be partially closed. From May until the end of next year, this section of the expressway will be completely closed and all vehicles will have to take other routes.


"When the World Expo starts in May of 2010, this section of the Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway will be a key route serving visitors heading for Shanghai from Zhejiang Province and its nearby regions," said Zhang Yunjie, an official with the transport and construction commission.


When the revamped road reopens in March 2010, residents in Minhang, Jinshan and Songjiang will benefit from a much more efficient highway, officials promised.


However, they would first have to deal with the inconvenience of the road's partial closure, officials said.


"Nearly 72,000 residents from those areas commute by bus every day," said Zhou Huai, a deputy director of the transport administration. "During the period of the project, buses will have to share the partially closed expressway or take detours. Traffic congestion could get serious."


Zhou said about 1,720 transit buses using the route will be affected. Bus companies will increase shuttles on affected lines to help increase transport capacity for commuters.


Construction will continue on this 18.07-kilometer route for 15 months and the whole project will cost nearly 2.2 billion yuan (US$320 million).


The project includes widening the road with more lanes, revamping overpasses and the relocation of its major toll station in Xinzhuang. All these efforts will nearly double the route's capacity.


(Shanghai Daily December 10, 2008)