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December 17, 2010

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Action urged over condition of bridges

SHANGHAI'S waterway administration authorities yesterday revealed that there are more than 200 dangerous bridges on the city's rivers and waterways, often old ones that cannot bear heavy vehicles, posing a danger to the public.

Inadequate maintenance and a lack of funding are to be blamed for the many bridges at risk, mainly in suburban areas, said Chen Xiuping, director of Shanghai Shipping Management Office.

Chen said state of the bridges, which are a public danger, hasn't been addressed as the city's development plan for next five years doesn't focus on the issue.

Five years ago, the city government said it would invest 9.8 billion yuan (US$1.47 billion) in waterway commerce and infrastructure as part of the last five-year plan, but only 5.9 billion yuan had been used up to this point, Chen said.

A weak bridge in Minhang District collapsed last month at midnight due to the weight of a cargo truck passing by.

A motorcyclist was killed after crashing into the vehicle, which could not be seen because of the darkness, as it lay in the shallow water.

Another old bridge, also in Minhang and in the same Pujiang Town, collapsed in October.

"Many bridges were built 30 or 40 years ago by farmers using concrete and rocks, and were not designed to support the weight of modern, heavy cargo trucks," said an official from Pujiang Town.

The series of accidents have compelled the town to conduct thorough inspections and repairs on its 100-plus small, aging bridges.

Bridges over Suzhou Creek in Zhabei District will also be renovated, but this will mainly be for aesthetic reason. The aim is to create a better and more harmonious look that complements nearby architecture and allows better access, said the district government.


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