Sunday, July 3, 2011

China Celebrates the World’s Longest Sea Bridge Inauguration

Four of the world's six longest bridges releases to the public in China today.

Three of the bridges – as well as the two longest ever built – are part of the Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway which made its first profitable trip earlier today. The Jiaozhou Bay bridge, which is the world's longest over-water bridge at 26.4 miles, also opened today.

This bridge connects the port city of Qingdao to the suburban Huangdao on the other side of the bay. China, with the world's largest populace, deals with often-crippling transportation congestion issues, so the government has spent billions of dollars in recent years to ease these issues.

“It is a superb and very advanced bridge,” Li Qun, the local Communist party secretary, said at the bridge's opening ceremony. “It is another stepping stone in the city's smooth and rapid development.”

Cost figures for the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, which is likely to carry 30,000 cars a day, vary widely: State-run CCTV accounted that the cost was more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) and the Xinhua news agency put the cost at $2.3 billion, and some approximates have put the cost at more than $8.8 billion.

For that cost, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is seriously strong. The Guinness Book of World Records announced that "the earthquake- and typhoon-proof bridge ... is intended to withstand the impact of a 300,000-ton vessel."

Although the bridge will be free to use for the next month, government officials pointed to that they plan to finally charge a toll of 50 yuan ($7.70). The bridge has six lanes, is about 110 feet wide, and officials estimate that it will halve the journey from Qingdao to Huangdao to about 30 minutes.

The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is the sixth longest bridge ever built, and smashes the record for world's longest over-water bridge by more than 2.5 miles, beating the United States' Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana.

The Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway, is a project that began in 2008, and, in making that trip in under four hours, more than halved the previous 10-hour run time of a parallel train. It cost approximately $33 billion to build and is expected to carry 80 million passengers a year, doubling the route's capacity.

In building the railway, the Chinese government constructed three large over-land bridges: the 102-mile long Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge, the 71-mile long Tianjin Grand Bridge and the 30-mile Beijing Grand Bridge – the first, second, and fifth longest bridges in the world respectively.

Eleven of the world's 15 longest bridges are located in China.

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