Archive for ‘Highways’


Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects | The Economist

CHINA is proud of its infrastructure: its cavernous airports, snaking bridges, wide roads, speedy railways and great wall. This national backbone (minus the wall) bears the weight of the world’s second-largest economy and its biggest human migration, as hundreds of millions of people move around the country during the lunar new-year holidays—the rush officially begins on January 13th.

Western leaders often shake their heads in disbelief at the sums China spends on its huge projects. And some analysts question how much of it has been wisely spent. In a widely circulated study published last autumn, Atif Ansar of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and his co-authors say the world’s “awe and envy” is misplaced. More than half of China’s infrastructure projects have “destroyed economic value”, they reckon. Their verdict is based on 65 road and rail projects backed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) or the World Bank since the mid-1980s. Thanks to the banks’ involvement, these projects are well documented.

One example is a 147-km, four-lane toll road in southern Yunnan province, which was built with the help of an ADB loan approved in 1999. The ADB expected the Yuanjiang-Mohei highway (Yuan-Mo for short) to cut travel times, reduce traffic accidents and lower the costs of fuelling and repairing vehicles, adding up to a compelling economic return of 17.4% a year. By 2004, however, traffic was 49% below projections and costs were more than 20% over budget, thanks to unforgiving terrain prone to landslides.

Were such setbacks enough to damn over half of the projects they examined? As a rule, the ADB and World Bank will approve an undertaking only if they expect its broad benefits (the economic gains from reduced travel times, fewer accidents, etc) to exceed its costs by a large margin, leaving ample room for error. Mr Ansar and his co-authors assume this margin is 40%: they posit a ratio of expected benefits to costs of 1.4 for every project. They scoured the banks’ review documents for examples of cost overruns and traffic shortfalls. Given these assumptions, a project becomes unviable if costs overrun by more than 40%, traffic undershoots by 29%, or some combination of the two. Of the 65 projects, 55% fell into this category. Yuan-Mo was one.

These projects may not be representative of China’s infrastructure-building as a whole. But there is little reason to think they are unusually bad. They are often managed with greater rigour, thanks to the involvement of outside lenders.The authors’ conclusion, however, rests on their assumption about the margin for error built into the projects they looked at. Take Yuan-Mo, for example. Its projected benefits, over its first 20 years of operation, were several times greater than its costs. But as often with roads, the costs arrive early; the benefits are spread thinly over many years. In the time it takes for an investment to pay off, the resources used could have been earning a return elsewhere. So it is necessary to reduce the future payoffs by some annual percentage, known as a “discount rate”. The higher this is, the lower the value placed today on tomorrow’s gains.

So a lot turns on what rate is chosen. For historical reasons, the ADB adopts a high one of 12%. At that rate, Yuan-Mo’s ratio of expected benefits to costs equals 1.5, roughly in line with the authors’ assumptions. But at a gentler rate of 9%, the ratio improves to about 2. At a rate of 5.3% (more in line with government borrowing costs) the ratio rises to 3. With these higher margins for error, many fewer elephants turn white. At a ratio of 2, the share falls to 28%. If the ratio is assumed to be 3, the proportion of duds falls to just 8%.

The authors also assume that any traffic shortfall persists throughout its life. That is not always the case. Traffic on Yuan-Mo, for example, has rebounded, according to the road’s operator. By 2015 it was 31% higher than the ADB projected back in 1999. Around last year’s lunar new-year holiday the road handled record numbers. Some white elephants turn grey with age.

Source: Opinion is divided on China’s massive infrastructure projects | The Economist


Historian praises China’s global infrastructure building, criticizes West’s destructive methods – Xinhua |

China, with its impressive international infrastructure initiatives, has injected impetus into global growth, a U.S.-German historian has said, while criticizing Washington’s hawkish attitude, as reported by Sputnik.

China is “leading an economic renaissance of a scale not seen in more than a century,” said F. William Engdahl, a historian and economic researcher, in his recent article for New Eastern Outlook. “Beijing is, with customary Chinese speed, linking its economy by land and by sea lanes to all Eurasia,” the historian wrote, previously saying that China is “moving forward with an impressive array of major international infrastructure projects” in various regions. “For my side, I infinitely prefer the peaceful building projects to the destroying ones,” Engdahl said.

During the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in early December in South Africa, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the 60-billion-U.S.-dollar aid package for Africa in the next three years. The package seeks to help Africa to industrialize, modernize its agricultural production, boost the skills of its workers, build infrastructure and improve its health care.

“Unlike NATO’s endless wars, construction of infrastructure — railways, water navigation, electric power grids, lifts people up and enhances peace and stability,” Engdahl said, pointing out that Xi’s offer benefits both Africa and China.

China is also establishing a more amicable, vibrant neighborhood and is deepening economic ties with European countries through its Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was brought up by Xi in 2013, with the aim of building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road routes.

The initiative creates a “golden opportunity” for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that are facing economic difficulties, linking the East and the West of the Eurasian continent through a vast network of high-speed railways and maritime routes, Engdahl said.

“China is the world address in rail infrastructure today, while the West, led by the pathetic rail construction record of the USA, falls farther and farther behind,” Engdahl said, referring to China’s planned construction of a Hungary-Serbia high-speed railway. The railway linking the capitals of Hungary and Serbia, Budapest and Belgrade, has a total length of 350 km, with 184 km in Serbia. It is designed for electric passenger and cargo trains with a maximum speed of 200 km per hour. Once complete, it will help create a fast lane for importing and exporting products between China and Europe.

Besides recognizing the export of “Chinese rail technology” to Europe, the researcher also mentioned Beijing’s intentions to invest in constructing and upgrading port facilities in the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas.

Source: Historian praises China’s global infrastructure building, criticizes West’s destructive methods – Xinhua |


Wuhan overpass swings into place[1]-

A 17,000-ton section of an overpass was rotated 106 degrees, one step closer to the completion of an elevated highway in Wuhan city, Central China\’s Hubei province, on Jan 14, 2014. The section on pier number Z63, at a height of 15 meters, was built along the railway to not disturb trains. It finished rotating and joined its other parts in 90 minutes. The completed overpass will be 256 meters long and span 11 railways, including the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway and Wuhan-Hefei Railway. It is expected to open to traffic this month.

Wuhan overpass swings into place

via Wuhan overpass swings into place[1]-

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4.7-trillion-yuan plan to double mainland road network by 2030

SCMP: “Central government earmarks 4.7 trillion yuan for upgrading and extending roads, giving the country 400,000km of highway by 2030

shenzhen_international_toll_roads_4634887.jpg Newspapers suggest 4.7-trillion-yuan plan to double mainland road network by 2030

The mainland will spend 4.7 trillion yuan (HK$5.9 trillion) in the next 17 years to more than double its network of major roads, top transport officials said yesterday.

Dai Dongchang , chief planner with the Ministry of Transport‘s general planning department, told a press conference that a recently approved blueprint for road expansion included 50,000 kilometres of toll highways and 160,000 kilometres of toll-free “national trunk ways”, which are narrower and have slower top speeds.

The mainland has 173,000 kilometres of the two kinds of road at present and the plan approved by the State Council last month says that should rise to 400,000 kilometres by 2030.

By then, toll-free trunk ways should connect all counties, Dai said, while highways should connect all cities with populations of more than 200,000, as well as important transport junctions and border ports.

Huang Min , head of the National Development and Reform Commission‘s basic industry department, said 18 cities of more than 200,000 lacked highway links at present, while more than 900 counties were not connected to national trunk ways.

The new highways would include two north-south routes in the nation’s west, Huang said, with many of the 900 counties expecting new trunk ways also located in the west.

The mainland now had about 110 million private vehicles, 60 times the number in 1981, when the plan for the existing road system was drafted, he said.

Dai said the volume of goods carried on mainland roads was 3.7 times the volume carried on United States’ roads and was expected to at least double by 2030, along with the number of passenger vehicles.

He said China had previously paid more attention to the construction of highways and small roads in the countryside, leading to sluggish development and poor maintenance of trunk ways.

The blueprint forecasts a total of 5.8 million kilometres of roads on the mainland by 2030 – 84 per cent countryside roads, 9 per cent provincial roads and 7 per cent highways and trunk ways.”

via 4.7-trillion-yuan plan to double mainland road network by 2030 | South China Morning Post.

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* China’s transport improves, faces pressure: minister

Ever more infrastructure.

Xinhua: “Some 87,000 kilometers of new highways opened in China in 2012, marking a record-high year-on-year growth rate, a senior transport official said Saturday.

Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang said 11,000 km of the new highways are expressways. In addition to building new highways, China has also improved 194,000 km of rural roads this year, according to Yang.

“China’s transport sector has seen historic changes during the past decade,” said Yang, adding that the total length of highways in operation is expected to reach 4.1 million km by the end of this year.

However, Yang also said China’s transport capacity remains insufficient, considering the booming demand created by the country’s industrialization and urbanization.

To meet mounting demand, Yang said China will continue to intensify transport facility construction and try to make these facilities more durable and reliable.

China will also make efforts to improve transport facilities in rural areas as well as those in the country’s central and western regions, he said.

At the same time, China will improve road safety by taking measures to prevent serious transport accidents, Yang said.”

via China’s transport improves, faces pressure: minister – Xinhua |

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* Maoist terror hits road development work in Sukma

Times of India: “Faced with overwhelming threat of Naxal terror, road development activities in the newly carved out district in tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, has taken a hit.

Road construction work to the tune of an estimated Rs 350 crore are at a standstill in Sukma, located on the state’s southernmost tip and the tri-junction of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

Many areas of the improvised Sukma district form part of the so-called liberated zone of ‘Dandakaranya’ of the Maoists where they are supposed to be running a parallel government and where there is virtually no presence of civil administration.

Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon’s abduction by the Maoists in April this year and his subsequent release has forced the authorities to tread with caution while taking up road development projects, resulting in Sukma almost becoming an approachless island and causing hardships to the tribals residing in remote areas.

Of the total 418 kilometers long roads in the district, only six roads-with a total length of 168 kilometres- are in a condition where vehicles can run.

These roads range from 12kms to 25kms.

Construction work of four other roads of a total length of 250kms have been thwarted due to Maoist threat, adversely affecting movement of vehicles in the area. Besides, there are many other small roads where taking up any development work is a far cry.”

via Maoist terror hits road development work in Sukma – The Times of India.

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