China's Massive Traffic Jam Could Last For Weeks
China has just been declared the world's second biggest economy, and now it has a monster traffic jam to match. Triggered by road construction, the jam began 10 days ago and was 100 kilometers (60 miles) long at one point. Reaching almost to the outskirts of Beijing, traffic still creeps along in fits and starts, and the crisis could last for another three weeks, authorities say. In the worst-hit stretches of the road in northern China, drivers pass the time sitting in the shade of their immobilized trucks, playing cards, sleeping on the asphalt or bargaining with price-gouging food vendors. Many of the trucks that carry fruit and vegetables are unrefrigerated, and the cargoes are assumed to be rotting. But there were no reports of violent road rage, and the main complaint heard from drivers was about villagers on bicycles making a killing selling boxed lunches, bottled water to drink and heated water for noodles. A bottle of water was selling for 10 yuan ($1.50), 10 times the normal price, Chinese media reports said. The traffic jam built up on the Beijing-Tibet highway, on a section that links the capital to the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. The main reason traffic has increased on this partially four-lane highway is the opening of coal mines in the northwest, vital for the booming economy that this month surpassed Japan's in size and is now second only to America's. Car ownership and gridlock have grown so commonplace that Inner Mongolia authorities restrict cars' movement to alternate days, based on odd or even numbers in their license plates. Guo Jifu, head of the Beijing Transportation Research Center, said vehicles on Beijing's roads multiplied by 1,900 per day on average in the first half of this year. The immediate cause of the traffic jam that began Aug. 14 is construction on one of three southbound highways feeding into Beijing. Authorities asked trucking companies to suspend operations and advised...
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