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Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays

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On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Chris Weiss

Worst. Traffic. Ever. China Experiences 10-DAY Delays

Most Americans get a little hot under the collar when road construction, accidents or other factors beyond our control create traffic delays measured in hours--or even minutes. Imagine the calamity that would ensue if traffic delays began hitting the days and weeks marks. That's beyond inconvenient, it's downright scary; and it's all happening now across the world in China.

China's traffic disaster, which has taken the country's Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway hostage, is now on its 11th day. Some drivers have been immersed in the bumper-to-bumper mayhem for five days. Yeah, it looks like they'll be a little late for that Monday morning meeting.

The traffic jam began on August 14. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou is an already packed highway and road construction in Beijing caused traffic to slow to a mind-bogglingly sluggish crawl of a half mile per day. Lines of vehicles snaked back some 60 miles.

UPDATE: The massive Chinese Traffic jam has all but subsided. NBC showed up just in time to report on a traffic jam that no longer exists. All the details at MSNBC World Blog.

According to Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city's Traffic Management Bureau, things have speeded up since this weekend. But when it comes to the Chinese government, official reports and media, you never really know. And we're loath to trust the man that is actually in charge of the traffic bureau involved in the worst traffic that we've ever seen--dude's kind of on the hot seat right now and undoubtedly squirming to get off. And the fact that he doesn't have a clue as to when traffic patterns will get back to normal isn't helping his cause. Road construction is set to go on at least another three weeks until September 17.

It's been a tough few days for drivers caught in the traffic. They've been forced to sleep in their cars and while away their time playing cards, walking around and going back to sleep--hopefully at least one or two brought a grill, some liquor and maybe a guitar.

Of course, there's a flipside to every story. Locals have been making bank selling necessities like food and water to the drivers stuck in the mess. And if there's any place that opens the market for price gouging, it's a 60-mile traffic delay. According to NPR, a 1-yuan (15 cents) water bottle has leapt in price tenfold, selling for 10 yuan ($1.50) on the highway. Meanwhile, a 3-yuan (45 cent) cup of instant noodles jumped more than 3 times in price.

One driver stuck in the traffic was quoted as saying: ""I'm spending up to 50 yuan (about $7.50) a day on food. It's more expensive than eating in a restaurant."

Hopefully, the traffic burden eases before the construction ends; these drivers deserve a good, hot meal in the restaurant of their choosing.


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