Hebei envisions integrated traffic network by 2020

Updated: 2014-06-27 08:02

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

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Hebei province has taken the lead in planning an integrated transportation network with Beijing and Tianjin, as Hebei works and plans two new ring roads that will surround the nation's capital, a top provincial official said.

The grand traffic network will include convenient air, sea and land traffic. And Hebei will make six major cities, including Shijiazhuang and Tangshan, into important traffic hubs like Beijing and Tianjin.

The integrated transportation network will be complete by 2020, allowing people to travel between major cities in the region within an hour and fueling regional economic development, said Gao Jinhao, head of the province's traffic bureau.

Of the projects listed on the plan, the Seventh Ring Road stands out.

Though it's known informally as the Seventh Ring Road of Beijing, only a small part of the 940-km-long expressway will run through the nation's capital, in Miyun county and Pinggu district. The other 850 kilometers will extend into neighboring Hebei cities, including Langfang, Zhangjiakou and Chengde.

The route of the ring road will follow Hebei's existing expressways, Gao said.

The Seventh Ring Road will open to traffic by 2015, and the majority of construction is already finished, said a provincial official on Thursday who declined to be named.

In addition, an even longer ring road outside the Seventh Ring Road is in the works. The road will run as much as 1,250 km through Tianjin and more cities of Hebei province.

Gao said the throughways will promote a more active interaction among cities in the new northern economic hub and fuel future coordinated regional development.

In the region, Hebei is weaker economically than Beijing and Tianjin, and the province's current traffic system also lags behind.

According to Hebei's traffic authority, the length of highways in the province is 19 percent less than those in Beijing. The expressway density in the province only accounted for half in Beijing.

To fill the gaps, Hebei has increased the allocation on expressway projects by 8 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) a year, reaching 46 billion yuan in 2014.

"The construction of the Seventh Ring Road will promote the regional development, that's for sure," said Chen Yanyan, a professor at Beijing University of Technology's Transportation Research Center.

But she also pointed out that the integrated traffic network in the region needs cooperation from the three areas, adding that initiatives only from Hebei cannot work.