China’s national highway system to focus on rural roads in 2008

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Jan. 9 – China will build at least 5,000 km of expressways this year, bringing the total length of expressways in the nation to almost 60,000 km by the year-end, Minister of Communications Li Shenglin said on Saturday.

According to the Ministry of Communications, there are currently 53,600 km of expressways traversing the country, of which, 8,300 km were laid down last year. 

Twenty-one provinces, municipalities and regions now have freeway networks longer than 1,000 km. Among them, Henan and Shandong provinces each have more than 4,000 km of freeways, while Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces each have between 3,000 and 4,000 km China Daily reports.

In the past five years, the country has built 28,000 km of freeways. China plans to expand its highway network to 85,000 km of expressways by 2020.

As part of the governments continued efforts to boost development in China’s vast rural inland regions, the authorities will invest more tax revenue on building roads to link more remote villages to each other and easing travel for rural farmers in those regions Li told an annual working conference in Beijing. About 270,000 km of roads will be either built or upgraded in rural areas this year.

The government plans to allocate 48 percent of funds raised by the vehicle purchase tax on building rural roads this year, up from 32 percent in 2005 and 44 percent last year.

Investment by the central government will also include money from the national budget and treasury bonds, though no detailed plan has yet been released.

According to China Daily, 423,000 km of rural roads were built or upgraded last year, with rural roads reaching 88 percent of all administrative villages and 98.5 percent of rural towns.

China currently has 3.57 million km of roads. A 35,000-km national highway system that comprises five north-south highway trunk roads and seven east-west trunk roads took shape at the end of last year, 13 years ahead of what was originally planned.