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National Trunk Highway System

From Academic Kids

The National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) is a system of freeways currently under construction in the People's Republic of China. It is similar in scope to the Interstate highway system in the United States.

China has been carrying out an ambitious plan to build up a 35,000 kilometer national trunk highway system before 2010. The main objective of the NTHS is to construct 12 high standards trunk roads, which comprise of 5 longitudinal roads and 7 latitudinal roads.

Construction began in 1990 and it is scheduled to be complete in 2020. The scale of the project can be seen by the fact that in 1989, the PRC had 271 km of freeways, but by January 1, 2005, it had 34,000 km of freeway, 4,600 km of which were built in 2003.

Unlike other freeway systems, almost all of the roads on the NTHS are toll roads that are largely financed by private companies under contract from provincial governments. The private companies raise money through bond and stock offerings and recover money through tolls.

Efforts to impose a national gasoline tax to finance construction of the tollways met with opposition and it has been very difficult for both the Communist Party of China and the State Council to pass such a tax through the National People's Congress of China.

On January 13, 2005, it was announced by Zhang Chunxian, minister of communications, that China will build a network of 85,000 km expressways over the next three decades, connecting cities with a population of over 200,000. The express highway system is to expand to 55,000 km by 2010, 85,000 km by 2020, 120,000 km by 2030 & 175,000 km by 2050.

Formed by 7 radiating lines from Beijing, 9 lines from north to south and 18 from east to west, the network, known in short as "7918 Network", will cover a region with a population of one billion. According to the plan, the 7 radiating expressways are

Of the total length, 68,000 km are trunk roads and 17,000 km are 5 regional ring roads. There are also 2 parallel routes and more than 30 connecting links. So far, 29,000 km have been built, 16,000 km are under construction and 40,000 km are yet to be built, with 32,000 km to be built in central and western regions.

The total costs of the national expressway network will be 2 trillion yuan (some 240 billion US dollars). From 2005 to 2010, the annual investment will run from 140 billion yuan (17 billion US dollars) to 150 billion yuan (18 billion US dollars), while from 2010 to 2020, the annual investment will be around 100 billion yuan (12 billion US dollars).

The construction fund will come from vehicle purchase tax, fees and taxes collected by local governments, state bonds, domestic investment and foreign investment.

The network will include bridges in the Pearl River Delta between Macao SAR and Hongkong SAR (30-km Hongkong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge) and a 31-km bridge or tunnel (pending a 5 to 10-year feasibility study) from Leizhou Peninsula (Guangdong) to Hainan Island spanning the 22.5-km Qiongzhou Straits. Also, the 36-km Hangzhou Bay Bridge is being constructed over the Hangzhou Bay (2003 to 2008), reducing the distance between Shanghai and Hong Kong by 120 km. The 18-km Zhongnanshan tunnel is expected to be the longest tunnel in China linking Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi, with Zuoshui county by 2009.

It is also planned to include an expressway from Beijing to Taipei, either connected by bridge or tunnel, across the Taiwan Straits over a distance of more than 200 km.

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