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|Jīngzhāng Gāosù Gōnglù
|Length:||148.2 km (92.1 mi)|
The Jingzhang Expressway (京张高速公路, Hanyu Pinyin: Jīngzhāng Gāosù Gōnglù) is an expressway in China which links Beijing to Zhangjiakou. It forms part of the Jingda Expressway from central Beijing through to Datong in Shanxi province.
Previously, traffic used China National Highway 110, which used to be clogged up (at times) with traffic. With the traffic situation as it is, and with the onslaught of more traffic, work on the expressway started in 1998, culminating in the completion of the entire expressway on November 16, 2002. The entire length of the expressway is 148.2 kilometres.
The Jingzhang Expressway gets its name by the combination of two one-character Chinese abbreviations of both Beijing and Zhangjiakou (Beijing—Jing, Zhangjiakou—Zhang).
The Jingzhang Expressway runs within Hebei province, although the very beginning of the expressway is in Beijing municipality. For reference, the segment after the Beijing City Limits Toll Gate, heading toward Zhangjiakou, is considered the Jingzhang Expressway.
The entire expressway is complete and open to traffic. The expressway passes through a bridge over the Guanting Reservoir.
The expressway was created in segments, starting in Hebei. The difficult part was how to get it across the Guanting Reservoir. Previously, traffic was supposed to make a detour, so as not to create a bridge across the reservoir. However, in the end, a bridge across the Guanting Reservoir was built and the expressway's total distance was thus shortened.
The Jingzhang Expressway's final segment—that linking it to the Badaling Expressway—was completed in November 2002. As of that moment, traffic could flow directly from Beijing through to Zhangjiakou in the form of a direct expressway. (Previously, traffic entered the expressway bound for Zhangjiakou only at the Tumu toll gate (now disused), 97 kilometres from Beijing.)
Mega Traffic Jam of October 2004
In October 2004, due to both excessive checks on lorries carrying excess load and the forced unloading of excess lorries, the expressway virtually broke down and created a massive traffic jam that would last for over a month. A massive, 56 hour+ traffic jam erupted. After October 8, 2004, the checkpoint at Kangzhuang, Beijing, forced large lorries to undergo a unified weight inspection. Given that winter was coming, and many lorries were overloaded with coal, a great number of lorries failed the test. The result: the authorities enforced a rule of "unload or we won't let you through".
Potential trouble spots:
- Guanting service area
- Toll gates (on the expressway, not at the individual exits)
- Major checkpoint at Kangzhuang, Beijing
At the toll station in Daijiaying, and at every exit in the Beijing direction, road signs urged drivers to use China National Highway 110 instead of the Jingzhang Expressway. The traffic jam meant that traffic that would take two hours to travel from Zhangjiakou to Beijing now took nearly two days.
These traffic jams continued on and off well into 2005. As a result, a second expressway linking Beijing to Zhangjiakou is in the plans.
Reason for the jams: bureaucracy. At every change of jurisdiction, there was a toll gate where lorries not only paid their tolls but also underwent weight examinations. Trouble was, every province had different standards and did not recognise the certificates issued from toll gates in other provinces claiming that the lorries were not overloaded. Beijing enforced a very low tolerance and forced even passenger cars to undergo the weight examination.
If a lorry was overweight, it had to unload and pass through the test again. Few people cooperated, instead willing to sit it out by parking their lorries on the hard shoulder of the expressway. The average time it took for a lorry to get through the test varied: 5 – 50 minutes, depending on the results.
Most of the expressway has a speed limit of 110 km/h. Hillier terrain has a lower speed limit of 80 km/h. The Guanting Bridge has a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h. Speed checks are rare.
Entire stretch charges tolls. Toll system not networked.
4 lanes (2 up, 2 down) throughout.
Guanting Service Area is next to the Guanting Bridge.
Badaling Expressway: Becomes the Badaling Expressway 60 km from Beijing.
Xuanda Expressway: Becomes the Xuanda Expressway after Exit No. 5 (if one does not change direction). The Jingzhang Expressway actually spins off to the right; if one continues straight ahead, one heads for Datong in Shanxi province instead.
List of Exits
Symbols: ↗ = exit, ⇆ = main interchange; ¥ = central toll gate; S = service area
Listed are exits heading west and northwest from Beijing (City Limits Toll Gate)
- Continues from Badaling Expressway