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Crossroads to progress


A new road and a substantial bridge will form part of an important north-south link.

Work will accelerate this spring on an important new highway link through central China including a major bridge crossing for the mighty Yellow river, after a slowdown in the face of the bitter winter temperatures.

The road will connect Xinxiang with the provincial capital Zhengzhou where it will facilitate a new city development.

The $506M link is much needed. A road bridge, built just 15 years ago, is already jammed with 38,000 vehicles daily. It is expected that the new crossing, part of an overall 82km northsouth motorway scheme, will carry more than 50,000 vehicles daily within 10 years. A dual four lane configuration is planned to cope with flows.

Overall length of the crossing is 9.8km, though much of that is simple viaduct across the river's vast flood plain.

Central section will be a tubular steel tied arch structure with eight 100m long spans and eight of 150m. Work on the foundations has been under way since April 2002 by contractor China Road & Bridge Corporation, under one of 12 contract packages for the road project.

'It is using its own rigs to form the 60m deep piles, ' says Hugh Williamson, an engineer with Babtie, which in joint venture with Japanese firm Oriental Consultants is acting as a contract management and checking intermediary for the Japan Bank of International Cooperation which has part funded the scheme with a $197M loan. Chinese government money and Development Bank of China loans make up the rest.

Piles are around 60m deep, bored through the yellow silty sand deposit which makes up almost all of the geology in this region. 'They are a mixture of friction and end bearing into firmer layers, ' says Williams.

This year will see a start on the concrete double column piers, and the steel superstructure.

The approach viaduct will use precast concrete T-beams for the shorter span links - 127 at 35m and 27 at 20m.

Road carriageway sections elsewhere are relatively straightforward. Where the road passes mainly over the relatively soft Yellow river deposits ground will be strengthened with vibrated in stone columns.

As Henan province forms a crossroads for major arterial roads, there will also be four interchanges with east-west road projects. The new highway itself will be one section of a north-south route from capital Beijing to Zhuhai in Guandong province to the south.

Design for the interchanges and the bridge has been carried out by the Henan Provincial Communication Planning Survey and Design Institute.

Mechanical and electrical works, and surfacting works are still to be let. Completion is due in spring 2004.

Pumping up demand

Some 20,000 construction sites for everything from skyscrapers to residential blocks, motorways to canals and factories have given visitors to Shanghai the dizzy feeling that everything is in flux.

Buildings continue to shoot out of the ground despite a worldwide economic slowdown. And according to German concrete pump manufacturer Putzmeister, demand for vast quantities of concrete will continue, for which it will supply concrete pumps and placing booms.

The company claims market leadership in Shanghai with a roughly 50% share, and the majority of these are operated by from the 120 or so readymix plants located around the city.

Insiders in the country estimate the number of concrete pumps there at around 5,000, of which about 80% are stationary pumps.

Robustness is a key requirement for the pumps rather than mobility.

Most operate night and day and a delivery output of 1,000m 3/ day, to as many as three sites, is considered normal.

Truck-mounted concrete pumps in China are usually based on Japanese Isuzu chassis and because of the high usage, each usually has two or three pump operators.

With a monthly income of Yuan 2,000 ($240), China's concrete pump operators are among the higher paid in the local workforce.

The average wage of a Chinese worker is Yuan 1,200 ($144).

In its first year, Putzmeister's Chinese subsidary achieved a turnover of Yuan 18M and by 2001 this had risen to Yuan 174M ($23.8M).

THIRD DIMENSION: China's giant Three Gorges dam project on the huge Yangtse river begins its third and final phase shortly, following last November's sealing off of the remaining section of the river. The new cofferdam will allow early stage impounding of the reservoir to a 135m level; it will eventually reach 175m.

Sluices in the first mass concrete dam wall will control the river flow during construction.

First stage of work will be on a central spillway area, 14 generators on one side of the river as well as a bypass channel and ship locking channel. The second stage will add 12 generators on the right bank side of the river. A large number of western suppliers have provided equipment to the project including Caterpillar and Terex earthmoving equipment, Rotec and Potain/Mitsubishi tower cranes for concrete placing, Akerstrom of Sweden supplied blondins and ABB and Siemens, electrical equipment.

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