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Revolutionary way Beijing highways teams widen lanes in minutes to fend off traffic chaos | World | News

Chinese technological advances have allowed the nation to circumvent massive motorway extensions and widen its roads in a matter of minutes.

Tidal lanes, switchable motorways that can change direction on a whim, have existed in Beijing for more than a decade, with the city having typically used traffic lights to signal the direction of travel.

In recent years, the city’s Municipal Commission of Transport has installed an automated hard shoulder that allows them to extend motorways with an additional lane.

The lanes can switch in a few minutes and have proven useful in sorting Beijing’s often heavily congested roads. Videos have shown the automated shoulder in action, wowing Westerners used to less than expeditious rush hour resolutions.

One motorist said on X: “Cool! If this happens in the UK, the whole motorway would be closed for that.”

Footage posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, shows two JCB-like vehicles travelling down a major motorway in the city.

Each vehicle has a tool clamped around a section of the hard shoulder, which they manipulate to create an additional lane.

According to the social media accounts, the two vehicles widen the lane when necessary, based on traffic density. The videos seem to play at a normal speed, but they still swiftly move the metal barrier into place.

The footage wowed viewers on X, with many comparing Chinese traffic management to their own countries.

One user said: “Meanwhile here in California roads are in horrible conditions, and they’re adding more and more pay-to-drive lanes in major highways by the day.”

One X user responded and said: “UK is at least 25 years beyond everyone else on transport and everything else, yet it’s the most expensive in Europe too – zero innovation or future thinking plans.”

But not everyone was so stunned. Some people were utterly bemused at why the barrier was blocking the lane in the first place. Many asked if the barrier was redundant and the lane should be open 24/7.

China is far from alone in utilising these methods to widen its roads, with similar machines used to expand lanes in both the US and Australia.

Chinese authorities have deployed similar methods with the country’s expansive rail network, and in 2018 introduced an automatic machine that can lay high-speed rail tracks.

The tracks, which were improved in 2021, can up to 1.5km of rail tracks per day and work 24/7.


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