On Monday city officials announced a new construction and rebuilding effort along Beijing Lu that will be finished by November 15, 2013. Traffic on the six-lane road has been severely disrupted since ground was broken on the Kunming subway system in 2010. A series of delays and operational setbacks have, at times, made it seem that traffic on the road may never completely return to normal.
Started yesterday, the road "rehabilitation program" will cover 11.7 kilometers of blacktop. The project stretches from the Kunming Train Station (昆明站) to Fengyuan Lu (沣源路) in the city's north.
Plans released by the Traffic Police Department call for repaving roads that have been scarred by months of continuous construction. In addition new bike lanes and sidewalks will be installed and the city will plant more than 3,000 trees.
The scheme is reminiscent of the Scenic Avenues (景观大道) undertaking that snarled city traffic for much of 2012. That project encompassed 22 streets, many of them vital Kunming thoroughfares.
Although Beijing Lu is only one street, it is arguably one of the most important traffic arteries in the Spring City. Work will be completed in sections while two-way traffic is funneled into side-by-side parallel lanes.
Pedestrian traffic is expected to be affected as well. Sidewalks will be torn up and repaved, although detours on opposite sides of the road will be made available. No word was given on rebuilding several pedestrian overpasses demolished along the street in 2010.
Official planners originally considered suspending all Beijing Lu bus traffic while rebuilding. They decided against it but commuters should expect significant delays and altered pick-up points. A bit disconcerting is a separate report stating bus station locations along the length of Beijing Lu have yet to be decided.
It is recommended that drivers try to avoid the street entirely. Planners have suggested the second and third ring roads be used as detours.
As of this writing no specific dates have been announced for when the different sections of Beijing Lu will be renovated, or, for that matter, what those sections are. The finish date for the project is set to coincide with the start of the Kunming portion of the China-ASEAN Trade Expo in November.
Subway construction — the initial cause of Beijing Lu's traffic disruptions — was not addressed in the report. Line 2 of the city's metro is being built underneath the thoroughfare. Metro Line 1 was most recently scheduled to open before Spring Festival, but a train derailment that killed a train conductor may have postponed those plans.