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Milestone passed in Bund-area renovation

Future tourists to Shanghai's famed Bund may find their experience freshened by tanks holding tropical fish and special walls that change color as wind conditions change, officials said yesterday.


But the biggest attraction, as always, will be the view: the stately old structures on the west bank of the Huangpu River and the futuristic skyline that seems to be breaking new height records each week on the east side.


The biggest change to that cityscape in decades is an ongoing project to remove the previous exhaust-choked roadway that visitors had to cross before reaching the riverbank and place it underground.


That effort passed a major milestone yesterday with the start of digging for the 1.2-kilometer northern section of the underground roadway. The southern portion, running 2.1 kilometers, was already being built.


When the nearly 5-billion-yuan (US$731 million) renovation project is completed in early 2010, visitors will find a riverfront promenade featuring shops, restaurants and sightseeing attractions. The only traffic will be four unobtrusive bus lanes.


Backed by China's widest digging machine, workers are now creating the tube for a multi-level vehicle passage for the north part of the project, the Bund Passage Project Headquarters said yesterday.


The 14.27-diameter machine started digging at Tiantong Road in Hongkou District and is expected to reach the other end near Fuzhou Road in Huangpu District in June.


For the southern section, which faced a more complicated underground situation, builders are using a different technique. Rather than tunneling underground, they are digging in from above.


"We have already finished nearly two-thirds of the construction for the underground passage on the South Bund," Mao Anji, manager of the project, said in an interview with Shanghai Daily.


"While the machine continues tunneling underground in the north, work in the southern area of the Bund this year will focus on ground level to bring a brand new look to the future tourist walkways along the riverbank."


He said planners are now selecting proposals submitted by top designers from China and overseas to find the best ideas for reconstructing the Bund promenade.


"There will be elevated viewing platforms along the riverside. We are aiming to complete the design with perfect artistic taste," Mao said.


Potential decorative touches include tropical fish tanks alongside the sightseeing platforms, waterfall walls and wind-sensitive walls that change color according to the breeze.


Construction in the North Bund has it own challenges as the powerful digging shield will run near the foundation of two historic buildings: the Astor House Hotel and Broadway Mansions Hotel.


(Shanghai Daily January 23, 2009)


Builders said that they have already taken precautions to protect the buildings' foundations from damage and to avoid land subsidence.