World's Second Longest Road Tunnel Opens in China
The Zhongnanshan (Zhongnan mountain) tunnel, which passes through the Qinling mountains in northwest China's Shaanxi province, opened on 20th January, 2007. The 2 x 18,020 m-long Zhongnanshan tunnel is on the Xi'an-Ankang highway, which is part of a national highway linking Baotou in Inner Mongolia in North China to Beihai in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in South China. It starts in Qingcha, Xi'an City and ends in Yingpan, Shangluo City. It is the longest road tunnel in Asia and the second in the world after the 24.5 km Aurland-Laerdal single-tube tunnel between Oslo and Bergen in Norway, opened in November 2000. The tunnel will play an important role in reducing travelling times in the Shaanxi province, cutting the drive from Xi'an to Zha Shui County Town from three hours to 40 minutes. As a main connection between the Yellow River economic belt and the Yangtze River delta economic circle, it will greatly reduce transportation costs and further promote the economic development alongside the highway. Each 6 m-high, 10.92 m-wide tube carries two lanes. The distance between the centre lines of the two bores is 30 m. The maximum overburden above the tunnel is 1,640 m. The section where the overburden exceeds 1,000 m is about 4 km. There are also three ventilation shafts.
A vehicle moves through the Zhongnanshan tunnel on 17th January, 2007
Construction began in March 2002. Drill/blast tunnelling was used, with machinery made in China. Geology consisted of composite gneiss and granite. Dump trucks were used for the mucking-out. Four Chinese companies were involved in the construction: the No. 5 Construction Bureau, the Tunnel Engineering Bureau of China, the No. 12 Construction Bureau and the No. 18 Construction Bureau. Construction has been supervised by the First Highway Survey & Design Institute of China.The tunnel is equipped with lights that show different colours and patterns to make drivers feel more alert. Each tunnel is decorated with artificial plants as well as images of clouds projected over the ceiling at certain sections in order to reduce the eye strain of drivers. The cost to build this tunnel was CNY3.2 billion or USD410 million. Read E-News Weekly
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