Vol. 5 Num 923 Sun. December 31, 2006  

China to expand expressway network by 2010

China plans to expand its national expressway network by more than 50 percent by the year 2010, adding new highways as long as all those in Canada and Germany combined, state media said Saturday.

China plans to add 24,000 new kilometers (15,000 miles) of new expressways to its current 45,400-kilometer network by 2010, the China Daily newspaper reported, quoting Communications Minister Li Shenglin.

China currently has the second-longest road network in the world behind the United States, which boasted a total of 90,000 kilometers in 2005, the paper said.

China will gain ground by 2020, however, with an expressway network expected to stretch 85,000 kilometers, it added.

China has been investing heavily in new transport infrastructure to handle increasing demand as its booming economy leads to rising car ownership and domestic travel.

About 260,000 kilometers of roads have recently been built or upgraded in rural areas, dramatically improving local transport for 30 million people living in 30,000 villages, it said.

China now has 3.48 million kilometers of roads.

In 2006, 8,711 bus stations were added in rural areas, offering millions of residents in about 20,000 villages the chance to ride a public bus for the first time, the paper said.