Three Things You Might Not Know About China’s New Highway Tunnels

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 5:00 am PDT


Sky Yan, Technical Marketing Manager, Avery Dennison Reflective Solutions China

China’s Guizhou Province has been the location for aggressive investment in highway construction by the government. Since 2009, $68 billion has been invested into the construction of more than 5,000 kilometers of highways. On the recent Wengan-Daozhen highway project, the mountainous terrain required that over half of the length of the system consist of tunnels and bridges - including some of the most impressive bridges in the world.

The investment in new highway infrastructure in China is impressive on many fronts, but the willingness of their engineers to think a little differently - thus creating and adopting innovation, is what really gets me excited - especially when it involves safety.

1 - Driving should be relaxing

As you reach the center of this 9,400 meter tunnel in China’s high altitude area you’ll find yourself mellowing to lush landscaping, alternating scenes of blue skies and underwater scenery projected onto the ceiling and sides of the structure. And for safety professionals in the United States looking for traffic calming and anti-road-rage features, this may be an interesting solution to consider.

2 - You might go back in time

A tunnel in Guizhou Province gained attention after hundreds of drivers reported going back in time as they exited. Checking their cell phones, drivers reported losing an hour immediately as they emerged from the structure. While investigators worked to solve the mystery (including claims of alien abduction), one observant individual added that “maybe the reason why China has so many of the world’s longest living people is not so much because they're old, but because they spend so long stuck in traffic driving through magic time travel space tunnels." In a major disappointment to hopeful time travelers, the problem was traced to a phone transmitter on one side of the tunnel sending out an incorrect signal, which put cell phone clock's times back by an hour, and it was put right after they zapped a correct transmitter further up the road.

3 - Retroreflective delineation can be fun

Several of the newest tunnels are featuring an innovative visual treatment designed to help drivers remain attentive and stay in their lanes - and in a sustainable way without added electrical utility costs.

A number of these new tunnels use Avery Dennison’s OmniCube™ sheeting applied to a series of low-cost delineators. Not only were the delineators installed in typical longitudinal arrays, but also vertically, creating a visual “loop” effect for added visual stimulation and interest. The delineators do not rely upon electricity for illumination, but instead return light from the headlight of vehicles - and at significant distances. Learn more about this technology by watching our OmniCube video, and visiting us at

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