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China to build highway to roadless county

NYINGCHI, China, April 20 (UPI) -- China began building a highway Monday to the country's last roadless county in Tibet, officials said.

The $139 million road will connect the town of Medog in Tibet to the outside world, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The road will link Zhamog Township and Medog in 2011, said Wong Mengyong, deputy Transportation Minister.

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Tough terrain, a lack of funds and poor technology have stymied seven attempts to build a highway in the area since the 1970s, Xinhua said.

"We have no road, no postal services, and little communication with the outside world. Local residents rely on horse and mules for transportation," said Ngodrup Doje, Medog's county head. "Many people in the county haven't seen vehicles.

"Our life will change a lot once the road is completed," he was quoted as saying.

Xinhua said the first phase of the project is to dig a massive tunnel through Galung La mountain, which is expected to take two years.

"When it is completed, the progress for the rest of the project will be smoothed," said project manager Liu Genshui.

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