Significant advancements have been achieved in the construction of the Tianshan Shengli Tunnel in Xinjiang Uygur, marking it as the longest highway tunnel currently in progress globally. This tunnel plays a vital role in the Urumqi-Yuli Expressway, boasting a substantial length of 22.1 kilometers and traversing the formidable Tianshan Mountains. The initiation of the expressway’s construction dates back to 2020.
Upon completion, the Tianshan Shengli Tunnel will offer a groundbreaking new pathway to southern Xinjiang, facilitating trade routes between Xinjiang and Central Asia. Anticipated to open for traffic by the end of October 2025, the tunnel is poised to reduce travel time through the Tianshan Mountains to a mere 20 minutes. The journey from Urumqi, the regional capital, to Korla, a significant city in southern Xinjiang, will see a remarkable reduction from over seven hours to approximately three hours.
The tunnel itself comprises two motorway tunnels and a service tunnel, with each motorway tunnel surpassing a length of 15 kilometers by November 11. The construction team aims to finalize the tunnel construction by the end of the following year. Overcoming challenges posed by the high-plateau location with intricate geological conditions, the team has displayed innovation and resilience throughout the construction process.
A key milestone was achieved as the tunnel boring machine (TBM) in the middle drift of the exit section marked substantial progress by advancing 11,028 meters on a recent Friday. This accomplishment underscores the dedication of the construction team in overcoming the complexities of constructing a tunnel in a high-plateau region. The exit section, spanning 11.05 kilometers in total, employs a construction scheme featuring three drifts and four shafts. The implementation of TBM construction in the middle drift enhances efficiency, providing a faster alternative to traditional drilling methods.
In its role as an integral part of the Urumqi-Yuli Highway, the Tianshan Shengli Tunnel is not merely a construction feat but a transformative infrastructure project that promises to revolutionize travel in the region. The innovative construction techniques and the envisioned reduction in travel time showcase the commitment to enhancing transportation infrastructure in Xinjiang.