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Wires in the sky to become a thing of the past

Shanghai has launched a citywide campaign to remove overhead cables in an effort to improve the city’s image and cut down on potential risks.

Xuhui District will begin removing the cables next month when it targets about 20 kilometers of wires that supply electricity, telecommunication and run electric buses, and bury them in underground pipes by the year end.

The radial wires were once a common sight and a proud sign of urbanization, but now pose potential fire risks after decades of weathering.

Shanghai aims to put down about 100 kilometers of such cables in the ground by the end of the year. Experts claim it will also make power supply more reliable and efficient.

The wires along the Huaihai Road M., an east-west downtown thoroughfare, will be among the first to be taken down. Workers will then head to Wukang, Yueyang and Hengshan roads, where a large swathe of historic villas and buildings are located.

“It is quite a challenging project because there are complicated gas, water and telecommunication pipelines underground, along with tree roots and subways,” said Luo Pengchong, director of the construction and transport commission of Xuhui District.

On completion of the project, the historic buildings along Hengshan and Fuxing roads will become more charming, Luo said.

“Our aim is to make every street a sightseeing attraction,” said Bao Bingzhang, the Party secretary of Xuhui. Bao and Fang Shizhong, director of Xuhui, inspected Wukang Road yesterday, where work is set to start next month.

Many of the buildings, such as the Wukang Apartments, which was known as Normandie Apartments and built by Hungarian architect Laszlo Hudec in 1924, is surrounded by a cobweb of cables. Some of the wires were for electric buses but are no longer in use, Luo said. The area under the jurisdiction of Tianping subdistrict has over 70 buildings designed by leading French architect Alexandre Leonard in the 1930s.

As per plans, workers will lay the underground pipes first, and then move the electric and telecommunication cables into the pipes, Luo said.

Eight substations will be built along Wukang Road and Huaihai Road M. to ensure reliable power supply.

The hanging cables will be removed from 18 roads in Xuhui, including Xujiahui commercial area and Zhaojiabang Road, Luo said. 
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