A New Highway Links China’s Capital to a Hoped-For Future – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Beijing built it. Now will the traffic jams come?

A new highway loop around China’s capital opened last week, ticking off another checkbox in a long-held state plan to tie the city and its surrounding suburbs into a massive megalopolis known as Jing-Jin-Ji.

Locally known as the Seventh Ring Road and officially as the G-95 national highway, the roadway spans nearly 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) and links a dozen existing highways in a chain that circles the far outskirts of Beijing. Five successively smaller coils of highways sit inside of it. The smallest, and nearest to the Forbidden City in the core of the capital, is the Second Ring Road.

If the seventh ring were unwound and moved to the U.S., it would stretch roughly a sixth of the way across the United States.

As it is, about 90% of the Seventh Ring Road snakes through 13 cities and largely undeveloped areas and farmland in nearby Hebei province. The name for the megalopolis, Jing-Jin-Ji, combines characters from Beijing and the port city of Tianjin and a name for Hebei.

Government planners hope that one day soon the less developed areas of this conurbation will be transformed into bedroom communities, office parks and industrial estates, giving impetus to new sources of economic growth and easing the pressure on Beijing’s clogged roadways and soaring property prices.

“Transportation is making a leading breakthrough, accelerating the integration of Jing-Jin-Ji,” the Ministry of Transport said in a statement last week.  The Communist Party’s newspaper, People’s Daily, said Monday that the new ring road “will effectively ease the pressure on vehicles in the capital region.”

Sanhe, a city in Hebei, is typical of the official plans for the region and was spotlighted by the government as an important link in the Seventh Ring Road. Sanhe borders the eastern Beijing suburb of Tongzhou district, where new Beijing city government offices are slated to open by the end of next year. Over the last year, the prospect of new business activity and services in Tongzhou spurred a mini home-buying frenzy.

Locals are anticipating that housing demand could someday spill into Sanhe. Wang Qiang, a 30-year-old installation engineer for a Chinese construction company, and his wife bought a one-bedroom apartment two years ago in Yanjiao, a town that is part of Sanhe and sits on the Tongzhou border. The value of his apartment has roughly doubled since then, a sign of rising demand for his neighborhood, he says. “Yanjiao prices closely follow Tongzhou prices,” Mr. Wang said.

During a recent drive to Sanhe, it took nearly an hour and half to escape the snarl of Beijing traffic. A few convenience stores dotted local roads. A sign for a “World Business Valley” housing development stretched over an archway in front of a land parcel overgrown with weeds.Three days after its official opening, the Sanhe stretch of the Seventh Ring Road was empty. The toll booths were staffed. The six-lane highway was smoothly paved. Half an hour went by, but there were no other cars on a sunny, blue-skied morning.

The taxi driver, Ms. Zhai, was asked if she’d consider buying a home someday in Sanhe, the site of possible future development.

“Here?” Ms. Zhai sighed. “I wouldn’t. I’m from Beijing, from Tongzhou. There are no businesses, no factories out here. I’d have to wait a few years, then maybe I’d buy. Maybe in 2020.”

Source: A New Highway Links China’s Capital to a Hoped-For Future – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Advertisements
Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Law of Unintended Consequences

continuously updated blog about China & India

ChiaHou's Book Reviews

continuously updated blog about China & India

What's wrong with the world; and its economy

continuously updated blog about China & India

%d bloggers like this: