In the 1980s, industrial development in northeast China’s Liaoning province occurred rapidly. However, at the same time transportation infrastructure lagged behind the economic growth.
In 1983, the Ministry of Transport approved an expressway project connecting Shenyang, the capital of northeast China’s Liaoning province, and Dalian, a coastal city in the same province. On June 27, 1984, the construction began.
The expressway is 375 kilometers in length. As the first of its kind in China, the Shenyang-Dalian expressway is a 4-lane dual carriageway with a designed speed of 120 kilometers per hour.
64-year-old Xue Jingwei, a designer of the project, recalled that back in that time the decision-makers had hesitated to build the road.
“People didn’t understand why they had to pay toll fees to drive through the expressway, which made us worry whether the project could generate revenue, at least to cover the construction costs,” he said.
But the expressway was an inevitable choice under the urgent need of transportation improvement.
The construction was a tough task. The designers first drew the route on a map, and then measured the distance on site. There was a shortage of calculators and some designers could only use abacuses for calculation.
Xue said the average road construction was 2 km per day, a speed he regarded fast even today.
On Sept. 1, 1990, the Shenyang-Dalian expressway opened to traffic. The expressway has a daily traffic capacity of 50,000 vehicles, and annual passenger and freight transport volumes of 130 million people and 80 million tons of cargo, respectively.
Compared with other highways, the expressway could reduce travel time by more than half, said Xue.