Urumqi (China) : The second road across China’s largest desert opened for traffic Thursday, enhancing the road-links to the country’s northwest.
The 424-km north-south highway, across the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, will save travel-time between Hotan and Aral by seven hours.
The $107 million (790-million-yuan) project is expected to promote freight and passenger traffic between the resource-rich Hotan city, in southern Xinjiang, and Aral in the north, said Xinjiang’s Chairman Ismail Tiliwaldi at the opening ceremony.
The construction of the road was funded by the central government and work began in June 2005. The road provides easy access to the southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region as well as central and south Asian countries such as Pakistan and Tajikistan.
It will also speed up transportation of Hotan’s farm produce to Aksu – an important business hub.
The first highway across the Taklimakan, about 522 km from Lunnan in the north, to Minfeng County in the south, was opened for traffic in 1995.
However, vehicles bound for Aksu had to make a diversion along the westernmost border of the desert, covering 337,600 km, which had increased travel time.