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ON THE HORIZON: More Spaghetti Junctions & More Cars
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More Spaghetti Junctions & More Cars

By Richard J. Cook

BT 201606 160 03 ON THE HORIZON traffic123China may be notorious for its ring roads and inner city traffic jams but it's construction of 123,000km of road in the last 28 years really is a feat unmatched. In 2015, 11,000km of motorway was built alone which is an astronomical figure. From north to south, east to west China has built one of the most sophisticated motorway systems on earth, considerable by size and designed to allow the haulage of trillions of dollars worth of commerce. Aside from the economic usage of its vast road network, the population also now has the ability to travel like never before.

Tianjin's place in this system has been critical, since Tianjin is the major port in the north and is a major commercial centre in China. However, corresponding to Tianjin's growth, a major motorway refurbishment has begun this month that will last until 2018. The first stage of this overhaul is to take place towards the south west of the city. Namely, the Jin Cong high-speed motorway (S6), which connects Tianjin to the southbound national motorways and the Wai Huan West road (S113), which is to be upgraded into a secondary ring road for the west of Tianjin. Also, the major Jian Yang ring road is to face a step-by-step upgrade for the next 2 years, as it's capacity and ability to filter traffic onto the adjacent Wai Huan West road will be upgraded.

With the redistribution of economic responsibility to newly designated zones around the city, newer motorways and redeveloped roads are in demand. Keeping the circulation of traffic in motion and relieving already congested roadways is critical for effective development. Taking into account the many new residential areas springing up, this is no easy task and careful coordination is required.

With the Jing Cong motorway redevelopment underway, major traffic delays can be expected for the foreseeable future. However, the much needed project will eventually ease the traffic flow to the newly developing residential and business zones to the south west of the city. Specifically the Huayuan Science Park, the XEDA economic zone and the Goldin Finance 117 CBD will gain significantly from the project. In addition, traffic alleviation will also make Tianjin South Railway Station more accessible by road.

BT 201606 160 02 ON THE HORIZON traffic1Jin Cong Toll Madness

The 7.24 billion CNY project will refurbish roughly 5km of motorway junction, involving the reconstruction of slip roads, the addition of extra lanes and most critically the re-positioning of the Jin Cong motorway toll station further south and increased in size from 5 tolls per direction to 6, with additional large haulage tolls in order to organise traffic flow. This will reduce bottlenecks, which has largely been blamed for the horrific driving conditions of this area. This has ultimately sparked sighs of relief from major high-tech businesses in the area, as it will allow for larger loads to be accommodated allowing businesses to expand whilst making several tributary roads toll free.

The announcement for the redevelopment of the south-west motorway system has been expected for some time as just a stones throw away from the Jin Cong Expressway is the new Goldin Finance 117 business park, which is expected to be a major new CBD development. Under the current circumstances, to drive to the new Goldin Finance CBD via the motorway, would mean having to use the toll station. Once this toll is moved further south, the Goldin Finance CBD will be toll free and integrated into the general scope of the city. Hosting one of the tallest towers in the world and a vast commercial capacity, reliable traffic flow is a necessity. In addition, the XEDA development zone will be rubbing its hands, as a major road network upgrade in this area will improve its linkages with Hebei and Beijing. Productivity factors through the reduction of late deliveries and stalled progress due to congestion is also a much-desired outcome.

BT 201606 160 01 ON THE HORIZON raodHold your Horses

Traffic congestion is a plague in any city and Tianjin is no exception. The redevelopment of major intersections will be a continuing theme in the coming years, especially on the outer and inner ring roads. Taking into account that China's car sales increased 6.4% between April 2015 and April 2016, it's no surprise that Tianjin's roads are filling up more and more by the year. As of 2015 Tianjin has a smidgen over 2 million cars registered with state records, which is one of the highest ratios of car ownership to population in an urban area in China. Truth be told, major congestion will only seriously be tamed with the opening of the new metro lines. Metro lines 5 and 6 should be up and running by late 2017, according to sources.

As a side note, radical overhaul of the northeast motorway system may be on the agenda come next year, as the Jing-Jin-Ji mega urban project continues to take shape. So for now expect to see more spaghetti themed junctions pop up around the city and maybe there will be some light at the end of the tunnel for Tianjin's congestion problems or not.


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