China opens world’s highest road tunnel to traffic

  • Chola Mountain Tunnel is 7.1km long
  • The project cost about 1.28 billion yuan (US$193m)

BEIJING – China has opened Chola Mountain Tunnel, the world’s highest road tunnel, to traffic in Sichuan Province.

The name Chola in Tibetan means ‘mountains so high that eagles cannot fly over them’. Its peak stands at 6,168m above sea level and is covered with snow for eight months of the year.

The tunnel, which has been constructed in five years on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is 7.1km long, while the elevation of its entrance is 4,370m, according to a report by China News.

Before the tunnel was ready, it took more than two hours to travel around the mountain using a road prone to landslides, blizzards and ice, whereas now the journey takes just 10 minutes.

The tunnel’s length, thin air and low temperatures at such altitude all contributed to the complexity of the build.

The project, which consisted of the tunnel’s construction and more than 5 kilometres of auxiliary roads, cost about 1.28 billion yuan (US$193m). A feasibility study was launched in 2002 and it took eight years for experts to finalise a plan before work began in 2012.