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Author Topic: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert  (Read 1398 times)

Chris

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A 772 mile (1242 kilometer) section of the G7 Jingxin Expressway opened to traffic in the Gobi Desert yesterday. It runs all the way from Bayan Nur to Kumul, across some of the most remote desert regions of China.

The Jingxin Expressway, a portmanteau for Beijing - Xinjiang Expressway, also known as the Beijing - Ürümqi Expressway will span 2700 kilometers across northern and western China.

The section now open to traffic is likely the largest single opening of a controlled-access highway in the world. It runs through two autonomous regions (Inner Mongolia & Xinjiang) and one province (Gansu). It shortens the travel distance to Xinjiang by more than 300 miles (the Chinese government claims 1300 kilometers, but that seems bogus).

The new expressway runs through extremely remote areas with vast distances between exits and almost no towns except closer to Bayan Nur. There is only 1 town of significance on a 600 mile section, Ejin. The expressway was built in a region where no paved roads existed before. Think of I-70 in Utah, but then on an even larger scale. There was no electricity, no water supply, no cell phone coverage. Just a whole lot of nothing, posing significant challenges to get personnel, material and concrete & asphalt to such a remote area. However, China has significant experience with building infrastructure in remote areas and the expressway was built over a period of 4 years.

The expressway is more about connectivity than actual traffic volumes. It reduces travel time and distance between east and west, but the extremely remote nature of the expressway will likely result in a very low usage.





mile (kilometer  :sombrero:) post



kalvado

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2017, 10:02:19 AM »

an interesting question is how this works. are there any fueling opportunities along the road? Or you need a barrel in a trunk?
Would there be any safety patrol and/or rescue service? Food (although 1 day worth of food and water is a small bag)?...
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nexus73

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 11:35:04 AM »

Control city: Moscow!

Loved the I-70 on 'roids comparison.  Come back in 50 years and see if anything developed along the route.

Rick
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iBallasticwolf2

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2017, 12:43:52 PM »

an interesting question is how this works. are there any fueling opportunities along the road? Or you need a barrel in a trunk?
Would there be any safety patrol and/or rescue service? Food (although 1 day worth of food and water is a small bag)?...
No electric cars on this road!  :wow:
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english si

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 02:18:26 PM »

Control city: Moscow!
Ürümqi isn't little, plus the Beijing-Moscow route would go through Ulaanbaatar and Siberia, rather than southern Kazakhstan.

Karachi, Tehran, Almaty, Tashkent, and (everyone's favourite) Bishkek would be via G7 though.
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Henry

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 10:09:08 AM »

Al I can say is, Holy cow! How they built this through the desert in a short amount of time amazes me. Perhaps another comparison worth mentioning would be I-40 through AZ and NM, I-15 through CA, AZ, NV and UT, or even I-80 through NV and UT, although I-70 in UT works just as well.
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CNGL-Leudimin

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 04:30:17 PM »

I call it the "Middle of Nowhere expressway" as that is where G7 runs through. There are several villages on the section East of Ejin banner, especially near Bayannur, but West of Ejin banner there's exactly one: Gongpoquan (a.k.a. Mazongshan), in Gansu province.
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TXtoNJ

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 11:49:11 PM »

Definition of strategic highway. If Xinjiang flares up, they'll need this to get troops and materiel out there, quickly.
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iBallasticwolf2

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 12:16:16 AM »

Definition of strategic highway. If Xinjiang flares up, they'll need this to get troops and materiel out there, quickly.
Your probably right.  It's very likely the only reason this road was built was for military purposes, considering its going to have a very low traffic count.
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MaxConcrete

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2017, 02:54:11 PM »

The section now open to traffic is likely the largest single opening of a controlled-access highway in the world.

That's quite an impressive achievement, but the Chinese have continuously pushed rural highway construction beyond what anyone else in the world has done (although 1960s California set the bar very high for urban freeways and I don't know if the Chinese consistently exceed that standard).

I understand the desire to have a full controlled-access standard on the entire system, but I'm thinking it may have made more sense to have a non-controlled access 4-lane divided facility through this remote area. Obviously a 4-lane divided is sufficient and safe for the low traffic, and non-controlled access would have made the surrounding terrain readily accessible for whatever activity is possible - extraction, recreation, maybe some type of agriculture. It seems like the controlled access will cut off huge areas of this region, and crossovers/intersections will be needed for accessiblity.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 02:56:13 PM by MaxConcrete »
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2017, 02:18:53 PM »

That's quite an impressive achievement, but the Chinese have continuously pushed rural highway construction beyond what anyone else in the world has done (although 1960s California set the bar very high for urban freeways and I don't know if the Chinese consistently exceed that standard).

I understand the desire to have a full controlled-access standard on the entire system, but I'm thinking it may have made more sense to have a non-controlled access 4-lane divided facility through this remote area. Obviously a 4-lane divided is sufficient and safe for the low traffic, and non-controlled access would have made the surrounding terrain readily accessible for whatever activity is possible - extraction, recreation, maybe some type of agriculture. It seems like the controlled access will cut off huge areas of this region, and crossovers/intersections will be needed for accessiblity.

I'm not sure that really matters for the Chinese government. If they want a new interchange built for a farm/mine/whatever, it'll happen. Not quite the same level of bureaucratic red-tape occurs there, as happens in the West.
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Chris

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2017, 04:35:39 PM »

The first generation of expressways were built with fairly low geometric standards. Many mountain expressways are built - even today - with an 80 km/h (50 mph) design speed. Some first generation expressways built in the 1990s are being bypassed with higher capacity expressways with better geometric standards, in particular in the southeastern provinces.

In Western China some expressways were built as a twinning of the old road, in particular the first generation of expressways in Xinjiang. In some cases they lack full control of access, though they do tend to bypass the few villages on the road. G30 and G3012 have some at-grade access. G3012 south of Toksun in particular has a low design standard.

The bulk of the expressway network was built in the eastern half of the country, these are typically higher standard expressways and virtually always built on a greenfield alignment.

China has built an incredible mileage through extremely rugged terrain. Think of I-70 west of Denver but then tens of thousands of miles of expressway in provinces like Hubei, Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, Chongqing, Shaanxi, etc.

The province of Guizhou in particular has extremely challenging terrain. It has been claimed that Guizhou has more high bridges (over 300 ft) than the rest of the world combined. Guizhou is a plateau with many deep canyons which can only be spanned using very high bridges - including the highest bridge in the world, the Beipanjiang Bridge at Duge.

sparker

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 11:59:53 PM »

That's quite an impressive achievement, but the Chinese have continuously pushed rural highway construction beyond what anyone else in the world has done (although 1960s California set the bar very high for urban freeways and I don't know if the Chinese consistently exceed that standard).

I understand the desire to have a full controlled-access standard on the entire system, but I'm thinking it may have made more sense to have a non-controlled access 4-lane divided facility through this remote area. Obviously a 4-lane divided is sufficient and safe for the low traffic, and non-controlled access would have made the surrounding terrain readily accessible for whatever activity is possible - extraction, recreation, maybe some type of agriculture. It seems like the controlled access will cut off huge areas of this region, and crossovers/intersections will be needed for accessiblity.

I'm not sure that really matters for the Chinese government. If they want a new interchange built for a farm/mine/whatever, it'll happen. Not quite the same level of bureaucratic red-tape occurs there, as happens in the West.

Simple explanation:  Chinese infrastructure planning and deployment is a top-down process; since 1973, that process, which existed in large part during the intital Interstate years, at least from inception through the 1968 additions, was turned on its head by legislation that year inspired by the Nixon-era shift to block grants rather than extensive federal programs.  Currently, of course, the process of Interstate additions begins either at the state level or, increasingly, as individual Congressional actions; any "future Interstate" corridors have been designated as a result of one or another of those activities -- no omnibus "master plan" has seen the light of day since '68; at this writing, none are on the horizon.     
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Beltway

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2017, 08:21:57 PM »

A 772 mile (1242 kilometer) section of the G7 Jingxin Expressway opened to traffic in the Gobi Desert yesterday. It runs all the way from Bayan Nur to Kumul, across some of the most remote desert regions of China.

Is it all 4 lanes, and is it all a freeway?

Chris

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2017, 01:29:14 PM »

Yes, unlike some other routes in Western China, this is a greenfield route, which means it has full freeway standards. Some other routes have some at-grade access in Western China, some were simple twinnings of the old national highway.

This section of G7 runs through extremely remote terrain with very few if any population for a couple of hundred miles in western Inner Mongolia and northern Gansu. There isn't much recent satellite imagery in Google Earth of this area, but I'm guessing there could be a world record for the longest section between two interchanges in this area. 60+ miles seems possible, given that there are virtually no paved roads and no villages or towns in this region.

LM117

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2017, 02:11:59 PM »

However, China has significant experience with building infrastructure in remote areas and the expressway was built over a period of 4 years.

Meanwhile over here in the States, it would take us 4 years to build barely a fraction of it.
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kalvado

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2017, 03:48:23 PM »

However, China has significant experience with building infrastructure in remote areas and the expressway was built over a period of 4 years.

Meanwhile over here in the States, it would take us 4 years to build barely a fraction of it.
Some big reasons are: private land ownership and restrictive use of imminent domain approach; extensive (some would say excessive) environmental and labor regulations, and requirement to have all those involved to be OK with new build - as opposed to just government OK.
You may say all (some of) those things are  good, you may say they are bad - but it is what it is.
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CNGL-Leudimin

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Re: China opens 772 mile stretch of expressway through the Gobi Desert
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2017, 04:29:38 AM »

This section of G7 runs through extremely remote terrain with very few if any population for a couple of hundred miles in western Inner Mongolia and northern Gansu. There isn't much recent satellite imagery in Google Earth of this area, but I'm guessing there could be a world record for the longest section between two interchanges in this area. 60+ miles seems possible, given that there are virtually no paved roads and no villages or towns in this region.

I have to check, but it seems there are no exits between Wuliji Sumu and Ejin Banner. That's way over 60 miles.

Edit: Nope, there are at least two exits in the 197 mile section between Wuliji Sumu and East of Ejin banner. But according to Baidu Maps there is a 90 mile gap between two of them. There is also a 72 mile gap between the Westernmost exit in Inner Mongolia and Mazongshan in Gansu.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 04:44:21 AM by CNGL-Leudimin »
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