Changchun--Harbin Expressway Project in the People's Republic of China (Loans 1641/1642-PRC)

Description

This report evaluates the performance of the Changchun-Harbin Expressway Project, which was provided by ADB to the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in November 1998.

The Changchun-Harbin Expressway was one of the priority sections of the national trunk highway system in PRC. The expressway project was to serve as the link between existing expressways in the northeast corridor section, and complement and enhance previous investments. It consists of the Hashuang Expressway in Heilongjiang province and the Changyu Expressway in Jilin province.

The Project aimed to promote economic growth in northeastern PRC and was in line with ADB's strategic objective of promoting growth and reducing poverty. The Project was evaluated against the new project outcome as revised during evaluation, which is road transport efficiency and improved safety, bearing in mind five project outputs:

  • road infrastructure, equipment, and facilities
  • corporate governance
  • private sector participation
  • environmental mitigation measures
  • institutional and consultant strengthening.

Overall, the Project was rated highly successful.

Summary of Findings

  • The Changyu Expressway was rated as highly successful, while the Hashuang Expressway was rated as successful.

  • The Project was rated highly relevant. The Project was in line with the Government's National Trunk and Highway System Strategy, the Northeast Regional Transport Network Development Strategy, and ADB's operational strategy for PRC's road subsector.

  • The Project was rated highly effective. Although increase in traffic volume was 30% less than the appraisal estimate, the Project managed to reduce traffic congestion on the existing National Highway 102, increase the number and quality of transport services for freight and passengers, increase traffic in the road corridor, and reduce vehicle travel time, freight and passenger charges, and traffic accidents.

  • The Project was rated efficient. Although both expressways carry the same traffic volume, Hashuang Expressway appears to be less efficient than Changyu Expressway because of economies of scale derived from the longer Changyu Expressway.

  • The Project was rated very likely to be sustainable. Robust economic and financial returns driven by substantial traffic growth underpin the long-term viability of the Project. The availability of human and financial resources for operation and maintenance of toll roads, and pavement management systems is well in place. Only the lax handling of truck overload could compromise the financial performance and sustainability of the Project.

Lessons Identified

  • An important lesson was the need for much greater attention to resettlement during project implementation. Early review missions to projects with a significant amount of resettlement and/or substantial increase in numbers of resettled people above appraisal estimates would do well to include a resettlement specialist in the team.

  • Geographic location and harsh climatic conditions especially in the northeastern provinces of PRC warrant tight construction schedules at project implementation. Since shorter implementation period raises project viability, fielding of international capacity-building consultants prior to the start of the bidding procedures could have averted disputes over bidding issues leading to delay.

  • Commercial expressway operations require scale economies that cannot be achieved if the corporations cover relatively short sections limited to the administrative confines of the provincial governments. Commercial attractiveness of the Project would have benefited from having only one corporation straddling the provincial borders. This brings to the fore the Government's willingness to allow private ownership of strategic road infrastructure assets.