The major Kunming thoroughfare of Xuefu Lu (学府路) is a bit disordered these days. Shops have been shuttered or torn down entirely, bus stops have moved or are missing, and work crews are busy digging ditches and ripping out trees. So, as GoKunming user Ocean asked late last week, what exactly is going on?
It turns out there are several contributing factors, the largest of which is the construction of Kunming Metro Line 4. Planned to be finished and in operation sometime in 2020, Line 4 is the longest of the city's six approved subway routes. The 43-kilometer track will eventually connect the southeast portion of Chenggong (呈贡) to the area around Haitun Lu (海屯路) in the northwest. In preparation for a rise in expected foot traffic, sidewalks are being repaved and bus stops set back from the street on Xuefu Lu.
Upon completion, Line 4 will encompass 27 stations, the largest of which will be located at the intersection of Xuefu Lu and Jianshe Lu (建设路). The work crews currently tearing up the former are preparing to lay new electrical, water and internet infrastructure before work on the Jinding Shan Station begins in earnest, perhaps as early as this year. When construction does commence on the stop, the current state of Xuefu Lu may be preferable. Eleven exits are planned, making the station one of Kunming's largest.
Besides periodic gas, water and electricity outages in neighborhoods around Xuefu Lu, trees are receiving the most attention. Several hundred of them have been removed over the past few weeks, and area residents have taken to the mayor's hotline to complain. In response, city officials issued a statement over the weekend explaining the trees have been taken away to recuperate after being damaged by a cold snap last winter. Once recovered, the trees will be replanted along the road.
Another contributing factor to the general chaos on Xuefu Lu is that more than 30,000 households are currently being switched from meiqi (煤气) — a form of dirty-burning gas created during the production of coal — to tainranqi (天然气), or natural gas. The neighborhoods affected by this change are clustered around the Hongshan (虹山) and Jinding Shan (金鼎山) areas. The infrastructure necessary for the switch was delayed in certain areas around Xuefu Lu because of recent rains.
Longstanding rumors that Xuefu Lu will revert to a two-way street — as it was until 2008 — remain unmentioned by local media outlets. Regardless, it appears the current condition, or one similar, may be the new normal. Not only will building the Jinding Station throw two major traffic arteries into disarray, but another subway station will be under construction at Xiaocai Yuan soon (小菜园), perhaps rendering traffic patterns around Kunming's university district a complete mess for quite some time.
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