SHANGHAI, CHINA: The country's third-largest island is facing a great opportunity to develop after a feasibility report on the bridge and tunnel connecting Shanghai and the Chongming Island by crossing the Yangtze River was approved by the State Council.
"It is vital to developing the economy of the island and consolidating the position of Shanghai as the head of the Yangtze River Delta," said Lu Fei, deputy director of the Chongming Planning and Administration Bureau.
The link, commonly called Shanghai-Chongming river-crossing project, with the total length of 25.5 kilometres, will start at Wuhaogou in Pudong and end at Chenjia Town of Chongming via the Shanghai suburban ringroad and the Yangtze River with Changxing Island in the middle.
It will be an important part of the great coastal passage, as Haimen of Jiangsu Province is also planning to link itself with Chongming.
In addition to the existing expressway to Nanjing, the under-construction Hangzhou Bay Bridge, the Shanghai-Chongming project will offer one more way for Shanghai to develop the economy of the Yangtze River Delta as a whole.
"The development of Chongming has long been hindered by geographical restrictions. Things will be completely different once this bottle-neck is broken," Lu said.
The island is now connected with the mainland by ferry boats whose operation is obviously affected by the weather, with the island's gross domestic product below the city's average.
Based on a long-term study and a comparison of geographical, hydraulic and navigation conditions, the decision has been made to construct a tunnel of about nine kilometres from Changxing Island in the river to Pudong as the southern part of the link.
As the northern part of the link, a cable bridge with a length about 10 kilometres will be built to connect Changxing Island with Chongming.
The cost of the plan will be around 12.3 billion yuan (US$1.48 billion) and the designed speed vehicles travelling in the tunnel will be 80 kilometres per hour while that on the bridge will be 100 kilometres per hour.
The completion of the Shanghai-Chongming passage will shorten the two hours' voyage to a 30-minute ride, which will mean that the island will become more popular with tourists.
The State Council's approval of the project will speed up the local approval of the master plan of Chongming to turn itself into an ideal place for living, sightseeing and high-tech enterprises, according to a source at the municipal planning authority.
The county government selected four international design firms to work on the master plan for Chongming, after inviting 14 firms to a brainstorming session last year.
The Shanghai Urban Planning & Design Research Institute is responsible for integrating the innovative ideas of these four designing companies and working out the final plan for the island based on the specific conditions of the county and the Shanghai Municipality as a whole.
The plan has been presented to the municipal government for approval while experts' suggestions are also being heard.
(China Daily 08/17/2004 page3)
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