Upon passing muster after an inspection on June 1, 2021, the newly constructed Yanchang-Huanglong Expressway was ready to open to traffic. Lu Baoping, project manager of this engineering project, felt a sense of personal achievement.
Invested and constructed by China Gezhouba Group Co., Ltd., the Yanchang-Huanglong Expressway is a key project laid down in Shaanxi Province’s 13th Five-Year Plan, an important transport channel connecting China’s north, northwest, southwest, and south. Construction started in 2017, and it was officially put into use at the end of June this year, according to Lu. With a total length of 166.6 kilometers, the expressway connects Yanchang County, Baota District, Yichuan County, and Huanglong County under the jurisdiction of Yan’an City.
Yan’an is the former revolutionary base where, from 1935 to 1948, Chairman Mao Zedong and other proletariat revolutionists lived and worked. Their strengthening of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and people’s armies led to the country’s victory in the war of resistance against Japanese aggressors. It was also from Yan’an that the CPC marched to the victory in the New Democratic Revolution. The Yan’an Spirit has been an invaluable asset of the CPC members and all Chinese people ever since.
Workers constructing a near-zero emissions power plant in Fuxian County, Yan’an City, Shaanxi Province.
In late October 2017, Lu Baoping and 70 or more managerial staff at the China Gezhouba Group No. 3 Engineering Co., Ltd. were assigned to the expressway project department. “For many, the relatively short construction period meant working for three solid years without a break,” Lu said.
Owing to a complex terrain with national highways, railways, coal pipelines, and oil and gas wells, the expressway’s construction met diverse difficulties. “My team and I needed to resolve wide-ranging problems, and were at the same time responsible for the quality, security, and 100 percent accuracy of each step of the project,” Lu said. But despite the challenge presented by the short construction period, everyone did their utmost to contribute to the progress of the project.
Having provided employment for around 1,000 rural residents, construction of the expressway has contributed to the region’s poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. To make transportation more convenient for local villagers, the project also included the building of three roads connecting Machang Village of Getai Township in Huanglong County with neighboring communities plus seven more roads within the village. “The opening of the expressway and local roads to traffic will spur local economic development and rural tourism,” Lu said.
Environmental protection has been taken as the top priority throughout construction. “As the expressway passes through the Huanglong Mountains National Nature Reserve, the habitat of the brown-eared pheasant, we have amended the design scheme several times to erect 6,000 meters of sound-proof acoustic fencing barriers.
Replacing roads with bridges considerably reduced the expressway’s ecological impact. And no explosive was used in construction of the section in the reserve to minimize noise and dust pollution,” Lu said.
Young Survey Team
The first Yan’an East-Ring Expressway Project survey, staffed by fresh graduates Li Kaicheng and Ma Kefan, along with five other young adults, was set up in August 2020. “The tasks were unexpectedly arduous, especially for a small team like ours,” Li admitted. Newly graduated, he never imagined the practical side of his major would entail such hard physical labor.
The Yan’an East-Ring Expressway is one of the expressways under constructions in Yan’an. Upon its completion, the service capacity of Shaanxi Province’s north-south expressways will be significantly expanded.
Yan’an’s rainy season is in August and September, creating more difficulties for Li’s team. “At times rain would wipe out our measurement marks as soon as we’d made them, and our work left us caked in mud,” Li said.
The total length of the three roads to be surveyed was more than 100 kilometers. The seven young adults chose the most difficult and time-consuming route as their first task. Almost 15 kilometers long, it spanned lofty mountains and the loess plateau, a complicated terrain that hampered accurate measurements. Ma Kefang explained that its uneven surfaces made measurements difficult to align, so resulting in data errors that necessitated re-measurements.
“Aligning the tape measure with the ground, especially on slopes and uneven ground, presented all of us with a huge physical and mental challenge. But everyone gritted their teeth and surveyed the route on more than 600 spots,” Ma said. Eventually their tenacious efforts paid off.
Clad in a safety helmet and work overalls, 54-year-old Tang Keqi goes each morning to the construction site of Fuxian County power plant in Yan’an City. Surrounded by dump trucks amid the hum of electric powered engines, he oversees the 2,000 or more workers on the site.
Tang is project manager of the power plant undertaken by Northwest Electric Power Design Institute Co., Ltd. Located in the Fuxian County industrial park, this coal-based power plant project taps into the rich coal resources in northern Shaanxi Province. As Yan’an’s first million kilowatt ultra-supercritical project, it moreover constitutes a supplementary power supply for the ±800 kilovolt UHV DC transmission project from northern Shaanxi Province to Hubei Province. Once operational, the power plant will deliver sufficient electricity to Wuhan City, capital of Hubei Province, to meet the entire city’s power demands.
“In contrast to previous projects, the concept of green, environmental protection is uppermost in both the design and construction processes. When complete, the plant’s energy-saving, low-carbon achievements will render them first in China,” Tang said. He added that the installation of flue gas desulfurization and denitrification facilities will occur simultaneously with that of the generators.
The measure will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, smoke, and dust to almost zero. Meanwhile wastewater will be treated, recycled, and reused, while solid wastes such as ash and gypsum will also be effectively and comprehensively utilized. “In the future, 90 percent of emissions from the power plant chimneys will be water vapor,” Tang said.
On the basis of energy conservation and emission reduction, optimum use of local coal resources while achieving environmental friendliness has become the main technical goal of his team, according to Tang. The Fuxian County power plant project, therefore, provides a useful exploratory vehicle in this regard.