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4th Ring Road (Beijing)

The 4th Ring Road (Hanyu Pinyin: Si Huan Lu) is an express route ring road in Beijing, China which runs around the city approximately 8 kilometres from the centre of the city.

Although it is the city's third ring road, it is named the 4th Ring Road.

Route

The 4th Ring Road runs within the confines of the city of Beijing, more like a rectangle than a circle.

Basic Route: Siyuan Bridge - Chaoyang Park Area - Sihui - Sifang Bridge - Shibalidian - Dahongmen - Majialou - Yuegezhuang Bridge - Fengtai Area - Sijiqing Area - Zhongguancun Area - Jianxiang - Asian Games Village Area - Wanghe Bridge - Siyuan Bridge

Status: The entire express road is complete and open to traffic.

History

Already in the early 1990s, the northern stretch of the 4th Ring Road from Zhongguancun to Siyuan Bridge existed as a ring road, albeit with far narrower road conditions and with traffic lights. Only three flyover viaducts -- those at Jianxiang, Anhui Bridge and Siyuan Bridge -- existed.

To commemorate the People's Republic of China at 50, the eastern stretch of the 4th Ring Road was opened from Siyuan Bridge to Shibalidian around October 1, 1999. This was the first part of the ring road express road to be opened as an 8-lane express road (4 lanes per direction, not including emergency belt).

The northern part of the 4th Ring Road from Jianxiang to Siyuan Bridge was converted to an 8-lane express road in late September 2000. Later that year, the southern part from Shibalidian through to Fengtai opened to traffic, as was the case with the northwestern part.

In June 2001, the entire express road was opened to traffic.

In early 2004, the speed limit was reduced to a unified 80 km/h (minimum speed limit: 50 km/h).

In September 2004, the express road underwent a massive sign change. Exit numberings were unified at last -- bidirectionally (this was previously not the case).

A new overpass in the northern stretch is expected to be put into operation in October 2004, near the Beichen area.

Road Conditions

Speed Limit

Previously: first lane, min. 80 km/h, max. 100 km/h; second lane, min. 70 km/h, max. 90 km/h; third lane, min. 60 km/h, max. 80 km/h; fourth lane, min. 50 km/h, max. 80 km/h; auxiliary road, uniform max. speed limit of 70 km/h. Readjusted in 2004 so that all lanes have a uniform min. speed limit of 50 km/h and a max. speed limit of 80 km/h; aux. road max. speed limit of 70 km/h remains unchanged.

Tolls

This express road does not charge tolls.

Lanes

8 lanes (4 up, 4 down) throughout.

Traffic Conditions

The portion from Jianxiang to Siyuan Bridge, in both directions, is especially vulnerable to horrible traffic jams. The remainder of the northern and eastern portions are also vulnerable. Apart from the Fengtai area, the remainder of the 4th Ring Road has a lesser risk of being clogged up by traffic jams.

Major Exits

Siyuan Bridge, Sihui, Sifang Bridge, Shibalidian, Majialou, Fengtai, Yuegezhuang, Zhongguancun, Jianxiang, Wanghe Bridge.

Service Areas

No full-scale service areas exist; however, filling stations (gas stations) are plentiful in number.

Connections

Badaling Expressway: Connects to the Badaling Expressway at Jianxiang.

Jingcheng Expressway: Connects to the Jingcheng Expressway at Wanghe Bridge (for the time being, only heading for Laiguangying and Chengde).

Airport Expressway: Connects to the Airport Expressway at Siyuan Bridge (only heading for the airport).

Projected Jingping Expressway: Would most likely connect at Dongfeng North Bridge.

Jingtong Expressway: Connects to the Jingtong Expressway at Sihui.

Jingshen Expressway: Connects to the Jingshen Expressway at Sifang Bridge (only heading for Shenyang).

Jingjintang Expressway: Connects to the Jingjintang Expressway at Shibalidian.

Jingkai Expressway: Connects to the Jingkai Expressway at Majialou.

Jingshi Expressway: Connects to the Jingshi Expressway at Yuegezhuang.

Signs

When it was opened by 2001, the 4th Ring Road's signs were plagued by inconsistency. Mixing of Hanyu Pinyin and English on the signs confused drivers, but what was most confusing was the exit numbering. It so happened that the same exit had two different exit numbers -- one for each direction of the ring road!

Beijing authorities had three years lapse before they dealt with the problem. Old signs were progressively replaced by newer signs which had standardised English and -- finally -- a new exit numbering system in place. A sketch map of each exit, formerly only for expressways and isolated spots, was also introduced along with the new sign numbering.

Another change that's coming is the use of traffic sign language to signal traffic regulations instead of relying completely on Chinese Hanzi. Some bridge names (e.g. Sihe Bridge) are also getting a name change at the same time.

The work load is somewhat Herculean: 441 signs are to be changed! Of those, exit and entrance signs will form 202 signs; other, mainly larger-sized signs, will form the remaining 239 signs. Earlier in the summer of 2004, similar measures for the 5th Ring Road (which has an absent-to-chaotic exit numbering system) were announced.

In a show of speed, within the first hundred hours, new exit numberings went up for pretty much all of the western stretch of the 4th Ring Road (despite new/old signs being alternated on different stretch of the ring road).

Reaction to the new signs are mixed. There is a definitive plus side -- now, exits are matched with their equivalent exit/bridge names on the 3rd and 5th ring roads. Unfortunately, many complain of an information overkill. Signs are now complex enough to hold five different directions (on some bridges) -- way too much for the eye and brain to digest. Meanwhile, the mixing of lowercase and uppercase English in small font sizes is another concern.

Bad news for speeders: on both the 4th Ring Road and the 5th Ring Road, quite a number of speed traps -- cameras -- were put into place, along with the general sign change overall.

List of Exits

[Heading in a clockwise direction as of the Northern 4th Ring Road -- please note, Exit No. 1 begins at Wanghe Bridge]

Notes:

  • Exits present only in a clockwise direction are indicated by the symbol ↩; anticlockwise only, ↪; not yet open, ✕
  • Exit sign symbols: ↗ = exit, ⇆ = interchange with an expressway or China National Highway;

North 4th Ring Road

East 4th Ring Road

South 4th Ring Road

West 4th Ring Road

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