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March 24, 2010

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Redone Bund won't tolerate rip-offs

WHEN the Bund makes its long-awaited comeback on Sunday, visitors will find it tourist-friendly and nuisance-free, local government officials said at a news conference yesterday.

"We'd like to make the Bund the favorite public area and tourism site," said Zhou Wei, director of Huangpu District.

Take a bottle of water, for example.

Zhou said bottled water on the Bund will be cheaper than that sold in nearby convenience stores. In other tourism sites, the commodities usually cost more.

To ensure visitors get a good deal, Zhou said the district government will supervise the management on the Bund area and tightly enforce the law against illegal businesses.

Passenger volume at the iconic riverfront is expected to reach 500,000 a day, Zhou said - and swell to about 2 million during holidays.

They'll be coming to a new sightseeing area: a pedestrian promenade and four theme squares; a public space that's 40 percent larger than before; some 2,000 seats for people's comfort; and parking spaces for 500 vehicles, up from 200.

The city intends to make sure that annoying hawkers who want to take tourists' pictures or cheat them with overpriced goods are a thing of the past.

Only a limited number of government licensed photo shops will be allowed inside the renewed Bund.

The licensed shops will post the photos online to let visitors download, Zhou said.

Officials said yesterday that there will be more information and help centers inside the Bund. There will be staff who speak English.

The Bund will have its own police station with officers on duty around the clock to keep a close eye on security, officials said.

Following the signs, parents will find baby-changing rooms along the promenade and in the squares.

The added parking spaces should help relieve a previous shortage of parking spaces in the Bund, officials said.

But whether the supply has increased enough to ease the parking situation will be seen after Sunday.

The renovation in the Bund area, one of the broadest face-lifts in Shanghai history, entails the removal of a part of an elevated road, the building of an underground vehicle passage and the renovation of a 150-year-old bridge.

Facts About The Bund Renovation Project

The promenade and docks:

The promenade, 2,000 meters long, connects four theme squares and should be an ideal place for lovers and couples who used to haunt the "Sweethearts' Wall" along the bank of the Huangpu River.

The Shiliupu area, a renowned dock-turned business venue, will be a main traffic hub and cruise-ship terminal with 12 berths for river sightseeing ships.

The Bund traffic:

The renovation project aims to restore the old feel of the Bund, which used to belong to pedestrians and tourists before gradually giving way to busy vehicle traffic. About 70 percent of the traffic that used to pass the Bund area daily will be led to a 3,000-meter underground tunnel. Above ground are now six traffic lanes, down from the previous 11.

Historic buildings protection:

Dubbed as "a heart surgery," the construction underground faced many challenges. The tunnel had to go beneath 33 historic buildings, under the 150-year-old Waibaidu bridge, and above two underground pedestrian passages and a subway.

The builders installed a moni-toring system on the buildings and dismantled the bridge, moving it away to leave space for tunneling work. The bridge made its return last year.


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