Hainan travel chaos: Is it time to build the cross-strait subsea tunnel?
Massive vehicles line up to wait for ferry services, which were halted due to heavy fog, to pass the Qiongzhou Strait on a heavily congested street leading to a port in Haikou city, south China's Guangdong province, 21 February 2018. [Photo: IC]
About 10,000 vehicles have been stranded on Hainan Island after cross-strait ferry services to Guangdong province were suspended due to heavy fog.
The travel chaos caused by the week-long disruption has aroused discussion about the need to build a cross-strait bridge or a tunnel under Qiongzhou Strait.
CRI's Li Yi has more.
Hainan is a popular destination for Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year holiday thanks to its tropical climate and clean air.
But visitors got more time away than they bargained for this week after a heavy fog brought an end to ferry services across Qiongzhou Strait, which links Hainan with Guangdong province on the mainland.
"We tried to transfer our flights to other cities first and then to Beijing, but the tickets from Sanya are all very expensive. We also considered going home by train. But it won't work. It will cost too much time and there aren't any train tickets left. Many people have met a similar issue. We don't know what to do," sai Mr. He, one of 5 million tourists who travelled to Hainan Island during the Spring Festival holiday this year.
Ferry services were stopped once the bad weather set in. And flights back to the mainland have almost sold out.
Ticket price for planes leaving Haikou skyrockets. [Photo: IC]
Tan Zhongsheng is a professor of School of Civil Engineering of Beijing Jiaotong University. He is also a member of a research project looking at cross-strait transportation over Qiongzhou Strait.
According to Tan, building a bridge across the Strait is not a feasible solution.
"As far as I know, each year, the Qiongzhou Strait is shrouded by heavy fog for more than 20 days. There are also typhoons and storms there. A cross-strait bridge cannot guarantee an all-weather travel. However, a tunnel can avoid being affected by this type of weather."
Currently, the ferry service is the only way to drive to and from Hainan Island.
Tan said an undersea tunnel should help to ease the traffic pressure.
"We would prefer a railway tunnel, so trains can carry cars through the tunnel. We have acquired the technology for building a subsea tunnel. The construction will cost about 30 billion yuan. The plan is feasible both technically and economically."
But Xie Yanjun, a professor of the School of Tourism of Hainan University, is less enthusiastic about the suggestions to build either a bridge or a tunnel.
"Travel need should not be the only factor to consider when deciding whether or not to build a subsea tunnel or cross-sea bridge over Qiongzhou Strait. The subsea tunnel is unnecessary if only used for transporting tourists, as the travel rush is a seasonal phenomenon. There should be enough traffic every day if we want to build bridge or tunnel. National security, environment protection, and economic and social development should be determinants."
For CRI, I'm Li Yi.