On my trip out to the Great Wall of China by train, I found something downright bizarre while staring out of the carriage window – a multi-lane expressway that terminated suddenly ended at a field of trees. So what gives?
Tracking down the dead end
Luckily the ‘End Expressway’ sign I photographed one one big clue on it – the G7 route number.
So over to Baidu Maps, and I followed the route my train took north from Beijing, when I found this suspicious looking stub of expressway just south of Beijing’s 5th Ring Road.
And switching to satellite view confirmed it – this was the same dead end expressway that I’d photographed.
On the ground
I went to check the situation on the ground, but Google Street View doesn’t exist in China – but luckily Baidu Maps has their own similar service.
I started my virtual roadtrip on the G7 expressway headed southbound.
I soon reached the 5th Ring Road interchange, where I was greeted by a “End Expressway 2km” sign.
I then passed under the 5th Ring Road interchange itself.
And an “End Expressway 1km” sign.
Meanwhile traffic entering the G7 expressway from the 5th Ring Road was greeted with a “700m Yuequan Road” sign.
A little further along I could see a side road entering the expressway via right in / right out ramps.
Then the expressway started to narrow.
Down to one lane by the time I reached a “150m SLOW DOWN” sign.
I could now see the end was near.
And there it was – the “End Expressway” sign.
But it wasn’t over – time to do a u-turn and head back northbound.
An overhead sign indicating an exit to “Yuequan Road”.
Peeling away from the expressway.
With right in / right out ramps.
Until I was back where I started – the 5th Ring Road interchange.
It turns out that the G7 Expressway isn’t just any road, but a 2,540 km journey that starts in Beijing and crosses several deserts before reaching Ürümqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the far northwest of China.
Within Beijing the first stage of the G7 Expressway opened north of the 6th Ring Road in 2008, followed by the section between Beiqing Road and the 5th Ring Road in 2011. The gap between the 6th Ring Road and Beiqing Road was closed in 2014, followed by the mysterious stub between the 5th Ring Road and Yuequan Road in 2015.
Google Earth imagery from 2010 shows early work on the G7 Expressway north of the 5th Ring Road.
And by 2012 work on an the extension south towards Yuequan Road can be seen.
By 2013 much of the roadway was in place.
In 2014 the Yuequan Road exit now looks to be open to traffic.
But with the G7 Expressway running directly into Yuequan Road.
With the current u-turn at the end of the expressway not appearing until 2015.
So why is there a dead end anyway?
My theory was that the dead end stub of the G7 Expressway was intended for a future extension southward, and this 2015 Chinese-language news article confirmed it – as well as explaining the reason it was built.
The Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway is connected to the road in the Fifth Ring Road
19 July 2015
Yesterday, a 2.6-kilometer-long connecting line of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway was opened. In the future, vehicles entering Beijing from the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway and the Fifth Ring Road will go to Xueyuan Road from Yuequan Road in Haidian District, and vehicles leaving Beijing can go to the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway and the Fifth Ring Road through Yuequan Road.
The Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway runs parallel to the Beijing-Tibet Expressway and is an important expressway in the northwest of Beijing. At present, the daily traffic volume of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway has reached 100,000 vehicles. However, since the construction of the inner part of the Fifth Ring Road has not yet been carried out, citizens need to go around a section of the Fifth Ring Road to get on and off the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway, which is inconvenient to travel.
Zhou Zhengyu, director of the Municipal Transportation Commission, introduced in the morning that, in order to better play the functions of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway, the Municipal Transportation Commission organized and implemented the traffic facilities improvement project for the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway connecting line in accordance with the congestion relief project mode. The opening of the connecting line can realize the Jingxin Expressway The connection with the surrounding road networks such as Yuequan Road, Maofang Road, Shuangqing Road and Xueqing Road is of great significance for alleviating traffic congestion in the surrounding areas.
Zhou Zhengyu also revealed that in the future, Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway will play a greater role. From the current Fifth Ring Road Jianting Bridge to the city, a new interchange will be built between Baofu Temple Bridge and Xueyuan Road on the Fourth Ring Road. It will also be directly connected to Wenhui Bridge in the Third Ring Road.
However, since the construction of the inner section of the fifth ring road of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway is to be integrated with the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, it needs to be determined according to the process of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway. There is currently no clear timetable.
The proposed extension took the G7 Expressway deeper into Beijing, following the elevated Line 13 of the Beijing Subway.
As well as the Beijing–Zhangjiakou Railway, which ran at ground level through densely populated districts.
But the upcoming Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway was given as a reason to delay the extension of the expressway.
Work started on the aforementioned Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway in 2016, when the Beijing end of the existing Beijing–Zhangjiakou Railway was closed to traffic, and replaced by the 5.33 km long double track Qinghuayuan Tunnel.
Which took new high-speed trains beneath the city streets from December 2019.
But progress on the G7 Expressway extension? Someone asked the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transportation this very question in August 2020, and got a detailed reply.
Your suggestion on eliminating the “broken road” on the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway (G7) has been received. We have conducted a serious study with the Municipal Public Security Bureau, the Municipal Planning and Natural Resources Commission, and the Haidian District Government, and hereby reply to the relevant situation as follows:
1. On the issue of clearing the “dead end road” of the national expressway
In 2013, the Ministry of Transport and the National Development and Reform Commission clarified the definition of the national expressway “dead end road” on the basis of full research and demonstration, and identified specific projects. Beijing includes: Beijing-Taiwan Expressway, Beijing-Qindao Expressway, and the Capital Area Ring Expressway. After 5 years of hard work, in 2018, Beijing opened up all the national expressways in the city to “dead end roads”.
2. Relevant situation of Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway
Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway is a national expressway, numbered G7. The starting point is Jianting Bridge on the North Fifth Ring Road, extending to the northwest. It is an important expressway in the northern part of the city and has been implemented as planned.
The south of the North Fifth Ring Road of Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway is “Jingbao Road”. The planned starting point is Wenhui Bridge on Xueyuan Road, and the end point is Jianting Bridge on North Fifth Ring Road. The total length is about 8.2 kilometers, of which the section from North Fourth Ring Road to North Fifth Ring Road is 2.8 kilometers long.
The road adopts the form of tunnel structure, parallels with the Beijing-Zhangjiakou intercity high-speed railway and shares the route. Because the road construction boundary is 2-3 meters away from the open-cut section of the high-speed railway, and 5-6 meters away from the shield section, the construction process requirements must be constructed and implemented simultaneously with the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway.
Stating the tight timelines for the construction of the railway, combined with the tight corridor it was being built along, saw the expressway extension deprioritised.
3. Project progress
In 2016, the public company affiliated to the Shoufa Group has carried out research on the design plan and related preliminary work, and it was included in the construction plan of our commission in 2017. In order to promote the construction and implementation of Jingbao Road, in September 2017, our commission and the Municipal Housing and Urban-Rural Development Committee reached an agreement on the simultaneous implementation of the joint construction section of Jingbao Road and the Beijing-Zhangjiakou High-speed Railway.
Relevant construction procedures, the project unit can start construction. During the review of the design plan, due to various objective reasons such as the adjustment of the planning functions of the surrounding road network and the tight construction period of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, the design plan has not been stable, resulting in the failure to realize the joint construction of the Beijing-Baobao Road and Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway section.
At present, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway has been completed and opened to traffic. During its operation, the management requirements are that the impact of surrounding buildings on its structure should be controlled and the settlement index should be 2 mm upward and 1 mm downward. -3 meters, the existing construction technology and technical level cannot meet the operation requirements of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, so the Jingbao Road cannot be constructed in the near future.
The Municipal Commission detailing the interim solutions put in place to deal with traffic.
4. Work has been carried out
(1) In order to solve the problem of the connection between Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway and local road network, in 2015, our commission organized the construction of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway connecting line (about 2.6 kilometers in length), realizing the connection between Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway and Yuequan Road, Woolen Road, double The connection of the surrounding road networks such as Qinglu Road and Xueqing Road.
(2) In response to the traffic and travel problems of Tsinghua University, in 2017, our committee, together with the Municipal Public Security Bureau, Municipal Education Commission, and Haidian District Government, carried out comprehensive management around Tsinghua University, and adjusted the timing of signals and markings in Wudaokou and other areas. Ways; increased enforcement of illegal vehicles and illegal construction; promoted the extension of Tsinghua East Road to Heqing Road, the widening and reconstruction of Heqing Road, the widening and reconstruction of Chengfu Road pedestrian walkway, and the construction of the Heqing Road pedestrian overpass at the east gate of Tsinghua University Wait.
And what looks looks to be an acknowledgement that expanding an expressway into central Beijing might be a bad idea.
5. The next work arrangement
The access of Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway within the Fifth Ring Road will objectively increase the traffic pressure in the central city. In the next stage, our commission will continue to strengthen the research on the road network system in the region, continuously improve and improve the traffic conditions in the northwest region, and accelerate the construction of safe, convenient, An efficient, green and economical comprehensive transportation system can meet the diverse travel needs of the people to the greatest extent.
So will the G7 Expressway ever be extended – only time will tell.
Some dashcam videos
“Walking Joe’s Studio” has a dashcam video of the drive along the G7 Expressway, including taking the u-turn for the Yuequan Road exit – jump to the 11:30 mark.
Bilibili user “超牛的小霸王” also has a dashcam video of the same drive, but with a Chinese pop backing track – jump forward to the 5:45 mark.
- Google Maps and Baidu Maps links to the G7 Expressway stub
- G7 Beijing–Ürümqi Expressway at Wikipedia
- More detail in the Chinese-language version
- History of the G7 Expressway stub at Haiwai Net (Chinese-language)
- Update on the status of the G7 Expressway by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transportation (Chinese-language)
- G7 Expressway stub discussion at the 地铁族 railway forums (Chinese-language)
A good read. Note to self if ever driving in China, take End of Freeway literally.