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March 29, 2010

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Tomb-sweeping rush leads to gridlock

SHANGHAI'S highways and long-distance transport routes were overcrowded at the weekend as the annual tomb-sweeping rush started.

Gridlock was reported at toll-gates and highway entrances. Vehicle volume was estimated at about 80,000 on the city's highways from 7am to 9am on Saturday morning, 8 percent more than during the same period of last year.

The line of bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched more than 2 kilometers from the G2 highway at Wuning Road to the Huaqiao area at 7:50am, according to some drivers.

The traffic jam there started at the Jiangqiao toll gate and lasted about an hour.

The situation was similar at other toll-gates and traffic did not return to normal until 9am, according to traffic police.

"The traffic volume is three to four times the usual amount," said the director of a toll-gate at A2 Expressway yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, about 22,000 residents avoided the gridlock by using the Metro and shuttle buses to get to the city's nine major cemeteries.

The mortuary services authority of Songjiang District said it would try to arrange more shuttle buses during the Qingming Festival period, from April 3 to 5, to ensure tomb sweepers don't have to wait in long lines.

On April 5, 2.2 million people are expected at Shanghai's cemeteries, driving 210,000 vehicles, Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.

More than 780,000 passengers will depart the city by train from April 3 to April 5. That's 5.26 percent more than last year.

Chinese commemorate their deceased family members during the Qingming Festival.


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