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Longest highway tunnel under construction makes new success in Xinjiang

By Cui Jia| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: December 7, 2023

Major progress has been made during the construction of the Tianshan Shengli Tunnel in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is the longest highway tunnel currently under construction in the world.

As a crucial section of the Urumqi-Yuli Expressway, the new tunnel with a total length of 22.1km will traverse the Tianshan Mountains and open a new pathway to southern Xinjiang. The construction of the expressway started in 2020.

Upon completion, the tunnel will cross one of the longest mountain ranges in the world and create new routes for trade between Xinjiang and Central Asia.

When opened to traffic by the end of October 2025, it will cut travel time through the Tianshan Mountains to about 20 minutes, and the journey from the regional capital of Urumqi to Korla, a major city in southern Xinjiang, will be shortened from more than seven hours to about three hours.

The Tianshan Shengli Tunnel consists of two motorway tunnels and a service tunnel. By Nov 11, the total length of each motorway tunnel had reached more than 15 km. The construction of the tunnels is expected to be completed by the end of next year, according to the construction team.

The team had to overcome many difficulties and be innovative in constructing the tunnel, which is in a high-plateau area with complicated geological conditions.