Construction is a frenetic, noisy fact of life in Kunming. Old buildings are being demolished at a breath-taking rate, with modern highrises going up to replace them in a matter of months. Outside of the city construction is just as hectic, although often out of sight until projects are completed.
Yunnan is in the process of upgrading its rail network, roads, waterways and other infrastructure and money does not appear to be of much concern. The ten largest construction projects in the province have a combined price tag of 225 billion yuan (US$35.5 billion), Kunming Information Hub is reporting.
Four of the projects involve the construction of railroads. A new rail line is currently being built from Kunming to Nanning with funding from the central government's Go West initiative. The 441 kilometer line will pass through Shilin, Puzhehei and Fuming before reaching Guangxi's capital.
The Spring City will also be directly linked by high-speed train to Chongqing. The new track will bypass Guiyang and Chengdu and is estimated to take between two and three hours, shortening present travel time by 16 hours.
A new line to Hekou is also currently under construction. When finished it will be Yunnan's first high-speed railway, capable of handling trains cruising at 200 kilometers per hour. Completion of the line is expected to facilitate increasing trade and travel between China and Vietnam.
The first phase of an ambitious Kunming to Lhasa railway is also currently under construction. The 161 kilometer track will connect Lijiang to Shangri-La and is set to be completed by 2015. It will pass by, not through, Tiger Leaping Gorge. The four new railways have a combined cost of 110 billion yuan (US$17.3 billion).
Kunming's urban rail network is slated to be completed in 2018. When finished, it will have six lines stretching 188 kilometers with 31 subway and light rail stations. Lines one and two are scheduled to be operational by the end of 2012. Construction of those two subway lines are projected to cost 21 billion yuan (US$3.3 billion).
The project with the highest profile, and potentially the largest impact on the province, is also the first to reach completion. Kunming Changshui International Airport (昆明长水国际机场), officially opens June 28 and will be China's fourth largest.
Two ongoing projects that once again aim to clean up Dianchi Lake are also underway. One involves diverting 600 million cubic meters of water a year from the Niulan River (牛栏江), a tributary of the Jinsha River, into the lake in efforts to flush out pollution and algae.
The goal of the 20 year project, according to a report from the provincial government, is to transform Dianchi Lake into the future water supply for Kunming and Qujing. The second project is made up of 101 different endeavors to filter and otherwise 'balance' the lake's pH and oxygen levels by 2015.
Kunming is also in the process of updating its electricity grid. Forty-nine new power stations will be built around the city and connect to power lines with a capacity of 110 kilovolts. Additionally, 27 smaller converter stations will be built and linked up with electricity distribution lines carrying 35 kilovolts. In total the city will install 2,300 kilometers of new power lines at a cost of 10.7 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion).