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November 25, 2011

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Demolition for 'danger' bridge

COMMUTERS from several downtown districts in Shanghai are likely to encounter increased road congestion during rush hours after a bridge across Suzhou Creek is shut down for a year for demolition and building work starting next Friday.

Workers will demolish the Jiangning Road Bridge, which was deemed "structurally dangerous" in 2002, and a new bridge will be built on the same site and open to traffic next December, local transport authorities said.

Police said the stretch of Jiangning Road between Guangfu Road W. and Aomen Road is to be closed to traffic from 11pm next Friday.

During the closure, only residents in affected complexes and project vehicles will be allowed access.

Tens of thousands of commuters, mainly from Putuo, Zhabei, Hongkou, Jing'an and Yangpu districts, will be affected. Traffic police are posting signs in the area to guide drivers to alternative routes. It is estimated that the detours could add an extra 4.3 kilometers to commuters' journeys.

Police will carry out a number of measures to boost capacity and streamline traffic flow on nearby roads and bridges, including adjusting car lanes and adding temporary ramps to the bridges.

"But since the affected roads are all narrow and cater to high volumes of daily traffic, increased traffic jams in the area seem inevitable," said a police officer working on traffic plans for the bridge project yesterday.

The bridge was built in 1968 and was rated as "structurally dangerous" about nine years ago. Transport authorities have been taking measures each year since to ensure it continued to function safely. Cargo vehicles have been banned from the bridge since the 2002 finding.

As part of the preparations in advance of the reconstruction work, and also to reduce traffic pressure on the structure, the Zhenping Road Bridge over the creek was built not far away in 2009.

The schedule calls for demolition to finish by next March and the new bridge to be finished and opened to traffic by next December, traffic authorities said yesterday.

"Given the tight space in the narrow downtown area, the new bridge will not be expanded wider than the old one," said Li Jun, an official with the local engineering administration department. "Future traffic capacity will be about the same but the new bridge will be designed to match better with the nearby environment."

Local authorities are also considering what to do with the Caoyang Road Bridge next year after they found potential risks in its structure blamed on nearby construction operations, Li said.


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