Asia’s super power China is set to break its own record of the world’s highest bridge with the completion of a structure that stands 565 metres above the valley floor. Chinese engineers have completed the structure of the world's highest bridge - the Beipanjiang Bridge, in mountainous southwestern China, 565 metres above a river. As such it overtakes the Si Du River Bridge in the central province of Hubei to become the world's highest bridge. The final section of the main span of the Beipanjiang Bridge, connecting Yunnan province and Guizhou province, was put in place on 2016 September 09 Saturday. The entire 1,341-metre span is expected to open to traffic at the end of this year and will cut road trips from Liupanshui in Guizhou to Xuanwei in neighbouring Yunnan province from around five hours to less than two, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.
The announcement comes a week after authorities closed the world’s longest glass-bottomed bridge, also in China, after deciding it needed urgent maintenance. The bridge was opened to great fanfare 13 days earlier.
China News Service reported that the deck of the road bridge over a valley in southwestern China is 24 metres higher than the top of the rebuilt One World Trade Centre in New York City. The two ends of the bridge were linked on September 09. It will become the highest bridge – when measuring the vertical distance from the deck to the ground or water below – beating the Sidu River Bridge, in Hubei province, the current record holder completed in 2009, by just five metres.
The new bridge is part of a highway linking the eastern city of Hangzhou to Yunnan province. No precise date has been set for its completion later this year. China has been investing heavily in its infrastructure projects to support the slowing economy. Beijing unveiled a 4.7 trillion yuan (HK$5.5 trillion) plan in May to improve the country’s transport infrastructure over the next three years, which covers 303 projects including railways, highways and urban rail. Construction of the new 1,341-metre-long bridge is costing about 1 billion yuan (HK$1.2 billion).The mountainous Guizhou province is home to seven of the 10 highest bridges in China, Xinhua reported.
Several of the world's highest bridges are in China, although the world's tallest bridge -- measured in terms of the height of its own structure, rather than the distance to the ground -- remains France's Millau viaduct at 343 metres tall.
Earlier, on 22 August 2016 the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge has opened in China’s spectacular Zhangjiajie Mountains – the inspiration for American blockbuster Avatar. Measuring 430m (1,400ft) long and suspended 300m above the ground, the bridge spans the canyon between two mountain cliffs in Zhangjiajie park in China’s central Hunan province. Six metres wide and made of 99 panels of clear glass, the bridge can carry up to 800 people at the same time, an official in Zhangjiajie – a popular tourist destination – told the Xinhua news agency.
Tourists in China visiting what is claimed to be the world’s longest and highest glass bridge have been invited to smash it with sledgehammers to prove it is safe. The bridge, 430 metres long, six metres wide and 300 metres above the bottom of the valley, can hold 800 people walking on it at one time. A BBC reporter Dan Simmons did a similar test on the walkway with a sledgehammer earlier this month, but some were not convinced according to media reports as he struck a separate piece of glass rather than the structure of the bridge itself. About 30 visitors were invited to try to smash the glass floor of the bridge at the Grand Canyon in Zhangjiajie in Hunan province on Saturday. The tourists wielding 5.5 kg hammers did succeed in cracking the glass, but a two tones vehicle then drove over the bridge in safety. “Even if the glass cracks, it will not break into pieces. Pedestrians can still walk on it,” Chen Zhidong, an official at the park, was quoted as saying.
Tourists can walk across the bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, and the more adventurous will be able to bungee jump or ride a zip line. “I wanted to feel awe-inspired by this bridge. But I’m not afraid – it seems safe!” Wang Min, who was visiting the new structure with her husband and children, said. Following an alarming glass bridge cracking incident at the Yuntai Mountain in northern Henan in 2015, authorities in Zhangjiajie were eager to demonstrate the safety of the structure. Only 8,000 people each day will be allowed to cross the bridge, Xinhua said, and tourists will have to book their tickets a day in advance, at a cost of 138 yuan ($20). People wearing stilettos will be banned. Local authorities have said that one of the summits in Zhangjiajie Park inspired the floating mountain which appears in the American blockbuster Avatar.
Many cities and town in countries like India remains congested and traffic jammed owning mainly to the lack of knowledge about bridge technology. Although India has made inroads in building tall rail bridges even with ‘records” , Indian planners have ideas about ending traffic jams by building tall bridges that bypass the several streets and even entire town.
Hopefully, China’s rich experience and strides in bridge building technology would be of use for third world countries like India, constantly struggling with heavy traffic disorders-.both genuine and artificially created by vested interests.