China’s highways buildout to 2020

The worst traffic jam in human history” happened on the Beijing-Tibet Highway in August 2010. It trapped some drivers for more than 20 days and stretched more than 60 miles (97 kilometers). The cause of the auto standstill was thousands of trucks transporting coal from Inner Mongolia’s coal fields to power plants in Beijing’s suburbs to satisfy the country’s surging electricity demand. The lack of railways connecting the two regions often results in trucks crowding highways, and excessive road damage from heavy vehicles blocks parts of the highway from maintenance.

China plans to finish a highway network suitable for the entire Chinese population by 2020. China included highway and infrastructure expansion as key part of its 12th Five Year Plan, effective from 2011 – 2015.

China also plans to boost production of ports, airports and train facilities to reduce reliance on roads and allow newer roadways to last longer. China’s roads transport 74.1% of the country’s freight traffic and 94.5% of passenger volumes, according to data from the Ministry of Transport.

China invested more than $713 billion (4.7 trillion yuan) in land and marine infrastructure during the previous Five Year Plan and will maintain that pace over the next five years.

* Each mile of highway requires 1,000 tons of iron and steel
* China is planning to add 800,000 miles of road by 2020 (1.29 million km) and 26,000 km of expressway (16,000 miles)

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