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Xinjiang's Second Desert Highway Completed

On Wednesday China completed construction of a second blacktop highway running across the Taklamakan Desert in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The 424-km highway runs north to south, starting in Aral, a city in central Xinjiang, and ending in south Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture. The highway traverses the Taklamakan Desert.

Road construction began in June 2005 with an investment of 790 million yuan (US$105 million). The People's Armed Police Force constructed approximately 180 km of the road.

The highway, which is expected to open on Oct. 1, will halve the travel time between Aksu prefecture, which administers Aral, and the Hotan prefecture.

Xinjiang's first highway through the desert opened to public traffic in 1995. At 522 kilometers it is the world's longest desert highway.

The Taklimakan Desert, China's largest desert, is located in the center of the Tarim Basin, south of the Tianshan Mountains. It covers 1,000 kilometers from west to east and 400 kilometers from north to south, covering 324,000 square kilometers.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2007)

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