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May 11, 2011

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Highway fault repairs begin

WORK is under way to repair faults discovered on an elevated highway leading to Hongqiao Airport, after a concrete block fell from the structure on Monday.

An investigation after the incident found that more road sections are at risk from the same problem.

The block that came off the Hongdi Elevated Road measured 80 centimeters long and landed in greenery without injuring anyone.

But members of the public were shocked as the road, which functions as the main traffic access to the airport, has only been open a year.

Government officials told Shanghai Daily yesterday that an inspection following Monday's accident revealed that several other sections could have the same problem.

It is claimed the constructor, Zhejiang Hongrun Co, failed to leave enough of an expansion gap between blocks. This is intended to ensure the highway structure remains flexible under different temperatures.

But the joint gap was too small to cope with expansion caused by high temperatures over the past few days, causing a block to break off, said highway maintenance company Chenji Co.

Officials with the construction authority said repairs are in progress and will not disrupt traffic.

Pieces of paper bits and rags were discovered inside the fallen concrete block, raising concerns that substandard materials were used to build the highway.

However, the authority said yesterday their investigation with the constructor showed rags and paper were used to separate wet concrete when forming the expansion joint.

"Routinely, rags and paper are removed when the concrete structure is completed, but here they weren't. But that does not suggest waste material was used to build the highway," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

The concrete blocks were put in place in winter. The constructor should have made allowance for expansion in the summer heat, the official added.

Nearby residents complained the construction company rushed the project to meet deadlines as the road was completed in less than a year.

They fear the construction quality of the highway faces more challenges as summer lies ahead.


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