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Loan deal will fund 3 highways

THREE major Shanghai highway projects received the funding they needed to finish construction when a group of banks agreed yesterday to a 13.7-billion-yuan (US$2 billion) loan.

The money will be used by the state-owned Shanghai Chengtou Corp, the city's top investor in major urban infrastructure projects, to complete the A15, A16 and A17 expressways - high-speed toll-road links between neighboring provinces, the downtown and Pudong International Airport.

The bank loan will cover 65 percent of the projects' total construction cost of nearly 21.1 billion yuan. The government is providing the rest of the funds.

The loan will come from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Development Bank, Pudong Development Bank, the Bank of China, China Minsheng Bank, China Construction Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China, according to Shanghai Chengtou. The company said it has intended to borrow the money since the start of the project but waited to formalize the contract until the funds were needed in order to save on interest charges.

"We've been allowed a pretty long period to pay back the loan," company official Zhou Daohong told Shanghai Daily, without elaborating.

Zhou said the A15, also called the Airport Expressway, is well under way and will finish construction this year.

The 83-kilometer expressway will provide an efficient road link from Zhejiang Province to the Pudong airport. The under-construction Minpu Bridge, which is part of the project, will run across the Huangpu River to Pudong from Minhang District. The A15's local section will become the city's longest east-west artery.

The majority of the A16, a 7.8-kilometer link connecting Qingpu District to Kunshan in Jiangsu Province, has also been completed in preparation for its opening before the Expo.

The A17 will link the A5 expressway between Jiading and Jinshan districts with the northwest section of the Outer Ring Road. The 11.7-kilometer road will start construction later this year and is due to open by 2011.


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