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China begins construction of $949 million undersea tunnel

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Xiamen, a coastal city in southeastern China, has started construction of a $949 million undersea tunnel linking the city’s downtown island with its major industrial district.

On completion in 2016, the 9.03km tunnel will link downtown Xiamen with Haicang District which is the largest Taiwanese investment zone in the Chinese mainland. The bottom portion of the tunnel will be built 72.6m below the ocean surface. The tunnel is designed to be a standard two-way six-lane freeway.

The Haicang Undersea Tunnel once open will alleviate the heavy traffic load of Haicang Bridge and greatly reduce the traffic distance between Haicang bonded port area and Xiamen Island.

According to Zhang Canmin, vice mayor of Xiamen, the tunnel will be vital to building a network of highways to improve logistics in the region. The region has been the focus of Taiwanese investment over the past three decades.

The new project will be Xiamen's second undersea tunnel with the Chinese mainland's first undersea tunnel, linking downtown Xiamen with the city's mainland Xiang'an District which was opened to traffic in April 2010.

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