Desert expressway opens in Ningxia
China Daily

The Zhongwei section of the Wuma Expressway in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region. Photo by Xu Qing/Provided to

The Zhongwei section of the Wuma Expressway, the first expressway in the country to cross a major desert, opened on Wednesday.

Linking Wuhai in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region with Maqin in Qinghai province, the Wuma expressway traverses Gansu and Qinghai provinces and the Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions.

The Zhongwei section is 122 kilometers long, with 18 kilometers crossing the Tengger Desert. The standard four-lane, two-way expressway is designed for speeds up to 100 kilometers per hour.

With the section's opening, the drive between Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, and Zhongwei is reduced from two and a half hours to two hours.

To reduce the impact of sandstorms on vehicle traffic, a high vertical sand barrier grid belt was build on both sides of the road. It makes the Wuma Expressway a green and environmentally friendly ecological corridor, said Fan Songshan, a project manager.

A viewing platform of 16,000 square meters was built along the Zhongwei section, with 29 parking lots and restrooms, for travelers to stop and enjoy the desert views, said Sun Jiandong, another manager.