News / Asia

    Thousands of Drivers Jammed in Traffic Near Beijing

    Thousands of Drivers Jammed in Traffic Near Beijing
    Thousands of Drivers Jammed in Traffic Near Beijing

    A nine-day traffic jam outside Beijing has drivers fuming, street vendors turning a quick profit and Chinese traffic authorities struggling for answers.  Traffic has been slowed to a crawl since August 14 on a 100-kilometer stretch of National Expressway 110 that runs between Beijing and Hebei province.  Officials say the jam is caused by an increase in trucks carrying goods to Beijing and by highway maintenance work along the route.

    Highways have become numerous and complicated in and around Beijing in recent years as the Chinese public has made a large shift to motorized travel over the past 30 years.  The road system there is now similar to what motorists find in the Washington DC area, which according to Forbes magazine ranks as the second most congested area in the United States behind Los Angeles.

    Joan Morris is with the Northern Virginia District of the Virginia Highway Department, or VDOT.  "We have had 20 mile (32 kilometer) backups,” she said.  “We have extraordinarily miserable days.  It has happened.  But our job is to make sure that does not happen."

    While highway maintenance is being blamed for the massive jam in China, Morris says those types of operations are very choreographed in and around Washington.  "You have to have one traffic guy who is looking at how those lane closures could impact one another.  You have got to be careful you are not shutting this down and also shutting that down.  So it is a big coordination effort,” Morris said.

    “And there are lots of folks dedicated just to reviewing lane closures, making sure everything makes sense, making sure the right signs are out there and that we are communicating with the public well in advance,” she said.

    Delays across the United States add up.  In the 439 U.S. metro areas, the average commuter spends 36 hours a year in traffic, which amounts to $87 billion in wasted fuel and productivity according to a 2009 survey by the Texas Transportation Institute.

    Nancy Singer of the Federal Highway Administration says states can take several approaches to minimizing the impact of road construction and maintenance.  "Part of the challenge is in the planning, specifically how states plan construction.  And there are various schools of thought on this and various approaches being used.”

    Singer said “It is not necessarily just putting up signs and having workers work on the roads.  But there are also strategies that can be used in order to reduce the impact to the public."

    The highway tie-up outside of Beijing reflects the rapidly increasing number of cars on the road in China, which has become the world's largest market for automobiles.  Near Washington, Joan Morris says Virginia's highway system has been viewed as a model for other road projects around the world.

    "We look at other places in the world,” she said.  “But often they are coming over here to see what we have done.  We have had many many groups from China and from other countries come to Washington DC and look at what Virginia is doing and what Maryland is doing because they look to us often for how to do it right."

    Nancy Singer says technology is also changing the way highways and roads are being built to further minimize the impact on drivers.  "Technologies make it possible to build roads faster.  There is a whole area called pre-cast concrete and pre-cast roads and bridges where you can build them off site.  And you can actually place them onto the road, perhaps at night time, which is really like building blocks.  So that causes very minimal disruption to the public."

    Not everyone is unhappy about the massive traffic jam in China.  The official Xinhua news agency says while drivers are suffering, local residents are seizing the opportunity to sell food and bottled water to the thousands of stranded motorists at inflated prices.

    Authorities expect the congestion to last until workers complete the road maintenance project around mid-September.


    Jim Stevenson

    For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

    You May Like

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.