Thu 22 Jan 2009
Going further afield again, this time to China. It’s no secret that China is the world’s hottest economy right now. The Chinese are flexing that muscle in the same way that America did in the 1950s – they’re building massive amounts of freeway (known as gonglu in Chinese). By the end of the next decade, China will have more freeway miles than the United States and drivers will be able to go from North Korea to near Mount Everest without ever getting off a freeway. The amount of construction is impressive. In 1989 China had about 90 miles of freeway – in 2008, China had about 40,000 miles of freeway. Compare that to the United States Interstate System, with a total length of 46,837 miles.
Photo used with permission, rjmcconnell from flickr.
In the past five years, China has spent more on transportation infrastructure than in the past 50 years. Numbering is a hybrid between most European systems and America’s. The lowest numbered expressways radiate out from Beijing, but other expressways are numbered according to their orientation. East/West freeways are odd numbered, and north/south are even. Almost all of the expressways in the country are tolled, and are run by private for-profit companies. This is an interesting aside to a country that has a centrally authoritative Communist government.
Map of Chinese expressways, which are in the pea green color. Most of the roads indicated on the map in red are set to be upgraded to expressway at some point. Map is courtesy of the Chinese News Agency of California, used with permission.
China is set to overtake the United States with the largest freeway network of any country within the next couple of years. This may set a precedent that other areas of the Chinese economy will follow. The new President has made some grand and eloquent statements regarding the upgrading of our American infrastructure, hopefully these will come to fruition.
Sources: USA Today, Xinhua, Chinagate.com