As China slowly recovers from the viral outbreak, work on its major infrastructure projects have now resumed. The expansion of the G30 Xiaocahu-Urumqi, a part of a major road project in the region worth more than $7.85 billion, is reportedly now already underway.
China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region announced that it plans to complete a total of 14 new highways by the end of the year. This will include the G30 Xiaocahu-Urumqi section, which is expected to shorten the travel time from Xiaoca Lake in the prefecture-level city of Turpan to the capital city of Urumqi to only one hour once it is completed.
The massive transportation infrastructure development will include six first-class highways, six secondary and tertiary highways, and two expressways. One of the projects is expressway S21, which will connect Urumqi to the northwestern city of Altay, one of the region's most popular tourist destinations.
The infrastructure project will be a vital part of China's wider economic strategy. Urumqi was once a major hub on the Silk Road in the past and it now serves as a major transport node for the region. It is also the cultural, political, and commercial center for China's northwestern region.
The project's director, Luo Xiaogang, explained in a statement that the new S21 expressway, which is expected to be completed in 2022, will reduce the distance between Altay and Urumqi to only 342 kilometers. The current highway linking the two cities is more than 600 kilometers long.
Work on the various road projects had already started last year and well into the first few months of this year. However, work was immediately suspended following the viral outbreak that resulted in strict travel restrictions and work regulations.
One of the projects that were affected by the government regulations and the lockdowns was the 1,300-kilometer G0711 highway project, which connects the city of Urumqi to Yuli county in the Bayingolin Mongol autonomous prefecture. The project was suspended for more than one month due to the outbreak. Work immediately resumed earlier this month as the number of new cases in the region had declined.
Project officials revealed that despite the temporary work suspension, progress on the G0711 is still on schedule. The highway is expected to be completed in 2023. A section of the highway will be crossing the Tianshan Mountains via a tunnel. Once completed, the highway will be sporting the world's longest tunnel, which will span over 22.11 kilometers.