I. Background and significance
Expressway firstly appeared in western developed countries in 1930s as an infrastructure specially to provide service for motor traffic. With prominent advantages in transportation capacity, speed and safety, expressway plays an important role in the development of a country in realizing balanced land exploitation, establishing a unified market system, and improving the efficiency of modern logistics and the life quality of the public people. At present, more than 80 countries and regions in the world have owned their own expressways with a total length of over 230,000km. Thus expressway has become a symbol not only for the modernization of transportation, but also for the modernization of a country.
Generally, under the guidance of the National Highway Trunk Line Project, the expressway in China has been developing continuously, rapidly and in an orderly way during the seventeen years from the completion of Shanghai-Jiading Expressway in 1988 till now. Particularly, with the active financial policy adopted by the government since 1998, expressway development in China has been on an even faster track, with an average length of over 4000km completed each year. By the end of 2004, the total length of expressway in China has exceeded 34,000km, remaining in the second place among all countries in the world. The development of expressway in China has significantly enhanced the overall technology level of the national highway network and improved the national transportation structure, which has greatly alleviated the “bottleneck” problem in transportation and has effectively promoted the economic and social development of the country.
With China entering into a new stage of building a well-off society in an all-round way and aimed to realize modernization in steps, the economic and social development has raised new and higher demands for expressway construction. From the viewpoint of the strategic and overall national development, planning a national expressway network at the state-level becomes necessary to guarantee the fast, sustainable and healthy development of expressway in China.
In the light of the national development strategy, planning and building a national expressway network will facilitate the establishment of a unified market in the country, thus promoting commodities and various other resources to flow and compete freely around the country, which is of great importance in narrowing down the development gaps between different regions, increasing job opportunities and pushing the development of related industries. Based on a summary of the experiences of economic and social development in the developed countries, the national expressway network plan is an urgent need for the building of an all-round well-off society and for the realization of modernization, and an important condition for China to increase its competitiveness in a global economic background.
In the light of the requirements for economic and social development in the new era, planning and building a national expressway network is a prerequisite to and has bearings on the nation’s overall development. Given that China is scheduled to quadruple the 2000 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first twenty years of this century, and the fast developing speed of the national economy will inevitably push the escalation of the total volume of personnel and goods flow. In addition, new industrialization has raised higher demands for the efficiency of transportation services, and particularly, the popularization of motor vehicles and the fast development of modern logistics and urbanization have all combined to make the national expressway network plan more imperative.
In the light of the practical needs for expressway construction, there is an urgent need for a unified and comprehensive overall plan to guide the layout a