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China Daily:Road paving veteran set to retire
2018-04-11  

 

By Cao Chen in Shanghai 

 

    Yuan Xueqiang, a worker from Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co who has worked on the construction of almost all the bridges and tunnels across the Huangpu River, will retire in about 100 days.

The Shanghai native has been doing the same job of paving roads for 40 years. He was part of the pioneering team of workers that was involved in building the city's highways and tunnels.

    After graduating from the Shanghai Urban Construction Engineering School in 1978, Yuan was assigned to work for the city's road management department. That was when he became a road paving worker.

    Over the past decades, Yuan and his team have worked on the construction of many of the city's largest bridges and repaired a major runway at Hongqiao International Airport.

    Working conditions for a road paver are harsh, said Yuan. These workers have to work under the scorching sun for many hours and endure the fatigue that the heat induces. But this hardship has also made the workers more resilient in the face of new challenges.

    Yuan said road paving is important as it affects the safety of drivers – bumps on a highway could cause accidents because cars are traveling at such high speeds.

    He added that one of the most memorable projects he was involved in was the paving of the race track for the Formula 1 race in Shanghai. Because the track was managed by a German company, Yuan picked up English from his daughter so that he could communicate with the Germans on the technical problems he faced.

    Yuan's team of road pavers even set a world record while doing their job, paving the 5.4-km race track in just five days.

    Another memorable part of his career was using rubber asphalt made from discarded waste tires to pave the roads in the Chongming-Qidong channel project. Yuan said that this alternative material helped to lower noise levels and enhance traction on the roads, and was important in reducing the impact of waste tires on the environment.

    Today, almost all the workers in the first batch of paving jobs in Shanghai have retired except for Yuan.

    "I have decided to train one or two apprentices before I retire, imparting my skills and experience to them so that they can contribute to the city's construction needs," he said.

    Gong Qianqi in Shanghai contributed to this story.