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May 10, 2011

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Fears over highway materials

RAGS, bits of paper and pieces of wood were discovered among concrete blocks that fell off Hongdi Elevated Highway near Hongqiao Transport Hub yesterday morning, raising safety concerns.

An 80-centimenter piece of concrete fell off a joint section of the highway, 10-meter-high above the ground, about 8am.

It landed on a nearby strip of greenery and no injuries were reported.

Bits of cloth, large pieces of yellow paper and wood were seen at the joint when workers began carrying out emergency repairs at 1:30pm yesterday.

This raised fears among local residents that the highway was built using construction waste.

Workers with the highway maintenance company, Chenji Co, said the materials were only used to fill the gap, known as the "expansion joint," where two parts of the elevated highway connect.

The crew said blocks became dislodged due to concrete expansion caused by the heat, as temperatures soared to 33 degrees Celsius yesterday. But they also questioned why this accident happened so soon after the highway's completion in April 2010.

With the summer ahead, the artery providing overhead access to the Hongqiao Hub is sure to face many similar tests of its construction quality, said residents.

There have already been complaints from householders in a nearby complex who fear the highway may collapse. They claim they have seen the wheels of heavy vehicles sink into the road surface.

A resident, surnamed Xu, claimed workers rushed the construction project to meet deadlines. Work was completed in less than a year.

A city construction official told Shanghai Daily that they were investigating the highway's constructor, Zhejiang Hongrun Co, regarding quality problems, as the company failed to make the expansion joints long enough.

Expansion joints with improper length means the highway is more likely to suffer from similar accidents during hot summer days, said the official.

The official said construction teams are now checking each expansion joint along the highway to prevent similar accidents, and that this would not affect traffic.


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