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China Completes 1st Road Tunnel Across Yangtze River

China completed its first road tunnel across the Yangtze River on Saturday in central China's Wuhan City after more than three years of construction.

The 3,609-meter, bi-directional four-lane road tunnel connects Wuhan's two major parts -- Wuchang, where government offices and universities are based, and Hankou, the business center.

The tunnel will allow 52,000 vehicles to travel at 50 kilometers per hour each day, said Yin Weizhen, Wuhan vice mayor.

"It will take only seven minutes from Wuchang to Hankou, while traveling above the ground costs half an hour."

The strongly permeable tunnel can combat a flood occurring once in 300 years and earthquake measuring up to six on the Richter scale, Yin said.

The two-billion yuan (US$286 million) project began in November 2004 and is expected to be open late this year.

Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, is one of the largest cities in central China with a population of eight million. It is the center of five railway lines, six expressways, and several highways. The city serves as the gateway to China's hinterlands and is nicknamed the "thoroughfare to nine provinces".

The city has increased the pace of improving transport infrastructure in recent years to ease clogged roads. Five bridges are in use over the Yangtze, and one more is being built.

(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2008)

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