China constructing new walls

BEIJING, Jan 24 AFP - Construction of Olympic infrastructure will move into overdrive this year with work starting on stadiums, the athletes’ village, roads and rail lines, the mayor of Beijing was quoted as saying today.
We will spare no efforts to ensure a successful completion of Olympic venues and auxiliary facilities,'' Mayor Wang Qishan said of the 2008 Olympics in a report on the work of the municipal government. New venues, the National Conference Centre, the Olympic Village and the journalists’ village will start construction this year,’’ China Daily cited him as telling the 12th Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.
We will speed up road building and building facilities surrounding the venues and start work on scenic projects in the central area of the Olympic Park,'' Wang said. Construction of four urban railway lines to cope with the influx of visitors expected to visit the Chinese capital would also be sped up, he added. While Wang did not say which venues world get started this year, the main 80,000-seat National Stadium is already under way, with construction of a new and cheaper version beginning last month. Initial plans to equip the stadium with an expensive retractable steel roof have now been scrapped amid a general austerity drive. Construction of the stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest’’ because of its giant lattice-work structure of irregularly angled metal girders, was abruptly halted in late July.
Lack of money was cited as a top reason while officials were also worried about safety and the design’s overemphasis on visual effects and extravagant imagery, according to reports.
The original design was billed at about $US470 million ($A612.06 million), while the re-design should cut costs dramatically.
As well as construction, Wang said Beijing was also working on living up to its pledge to hold a Green Olympics'' with 2,000 boilers that formerly burned coal being converted to using clean energy this year. Meanwhile, up to 3,800 diesel-powered buses stopped running while 20,000 taxis that failed to meet European emissions standards will be replaced by new and environmentally friendly cars, the newspaper said. In a visit to Beijing last November, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said preparatory work was on schedule and he had no concerns whatsoever’’ about Beijing’s planning of the Games.