Whatever traffic hell you endured getting to work this morning is nothing compared to what’s happening in Beijing, where a mammoth traffic jam is entering its ninth day with no relief in sight.
Thousands of trucks have jammed National Expressway 110 since Aug. 14, creating a traffic jam stretching 100 kilometers. Authorities attribute the mess to highway construction exacerbated by accidents and breakdowns. Police are trying to keep tempers from flaring in what is the second massive jam to tie up the highway in the past month.
“Insufficient traffic capacity on the National Expressway 110 caused by maintenance construction since August 19 is the major cause of the congestion,” a spokesman for the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau told Beijing’s Global Times on Sunday.
No one expects things to improve until the project wraps up on Sept. 13.
The highway, also known as G110, links Beijing with Yinchuan in Inner Mongolia and is meant primarily for big rigs. It is open to trucks with a cargo capacity of eight tons or more, although the stretch through Beijing has a maximum cargo capacity of four tons. As many as 17,000 trucks use the road around Beijing each day, according to Sky News, and Global Times says the problem has been exacerbated in the past month by “more trucks carrying excessive coal or fruit.”
It doesn’t help that China is the world’s biggest market for new automobiles, having surpassed the United States last year. The Chinese bought 13.5 million new vehicles last year, and some 650,000 hit the road annually in Shanghai alone, according to The Australian. Traffc can be such a nightmare that one recent survey found seven out of 10 drivers have at some point said “screw this” and gone home.
As many as 400 officers are patrolling the mess — presumably on foot — 24/7 and locals are making a quick buck selling food and water to stranded motorists. Drivers have been playing chess or cards, Sky News reports, with some joking “concerts should be held at each congested area every weekend, to alleviate drivers’ homesickness.”
Some drivers have complained of price gouging. One truck driver told Global Times “instant noodles are sold at four times the original price while I wait in the congestion.
“Not only the congestion annoys me, but also those vendors,” he added.
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