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Expressway construction resumes in Xinjiang

By Aybek Askhar and Mao Weihua in Urumqi | | Updated: 2020-03-24 19:49

One of the landmark projects of the highway in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the S21 expressway connecting Altay in the northwestern part of the region, with Urumqi, the capital, resumed construction last week.

The expressway - which began construction in December 2019 and is expected to be completed in August 2022 - will be the first desert expressway in the region.

The project had been suspended for a month because of the outbreak of COVID-19.

The current highway linking Altay and Urumqi is more than 600 kilometers. When the S21 expressway is complete, the distance will be reduced to 342 kilometers - about a four-hour drive - said Luo Xiaogang, director of the project.

About 150 kilometers of the expressway crosses the Gurbantunggut Desert, the second-largest in China with an area of 48,800 square kilometers. The desert also features oases, which form a unique natural and man-made landscape.

The total length of highways in the region will exceeded 5,500 km in 2020, according to the regional transport department.

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