World Records – The Longest Sea Bridge in the World
It’s no doubt that China will continue to play a key role in the automotive industry in the next few years and truth is that it really deserves all praises. Not necessarily because of the way it manages to support new car sales, but also thanks to the support it shows to the whole industry. Which, among others, also includes building the infrastructure that allows new cars owners to take the most out of their vehicles.
Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is the living proof that the impossible is actually… well… possible, when you have the necessary know-how, resources and experienced workers.
If the name of the bridge doesn’t tell you too much, let’s start by stating the obvious: it’s a Chinese bridge that connects the Northern port city of Qingdao with an island and the industrial suburb of Huangdao. If you don’t know China very well, this means nothing to you, so let’s get straight to the breathtaking facts.
Ok, so we got a 42.5-kilometer bridge that connects two crowded Chinese regions and spans over Jiaozhou Bay. Still not impressed? Then let’s go further.
Construction took no more than 4 years. Yes, you’ve read it right, 4 (four) years. It all started in late 2007, while the first car was driven on the bridge in mid-2011, with a total of 30,000 vehicles expected to cross it every day. At least, that’s what local authorities hope to happen.
More than 10,000 workers struggled to make this happen, building no less than 5,000 pillars, which are supposed to protect the bridge in case of natural disasters. According to local officials, the newly-built bridge can withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, as well as severe typhoons and… hold your breath… an impact with a ship weighing 300,000 tons.
Since safety is one of the main concerns for such a project, no less than 450,000 tons of steel and 2.3 million meters of concrete were used during the four years. That’s the equivalent of 65 Eiffel Towers, as the editors over at The Telegraph pointed out. The result? Six lanes and a width of 33,5 meters (110 feet) that are supposed to prevent congestion and provide a quick transit solution for those who want to travel from one side of the bay to the other with no fuss.
Another impressive thing is actually what’s under the bridge. No, not water, doh… As the engineers advanced with the construction of the bridge, workers were also building a tunnel, which, again, is supposed to fight congestion. Which is actually a very good thing if the estimates are really accurate and 30,000 cars cross the bridge every day. And this is very likely to happen since it cuts the distance between the two areas, namely Quingdao and Huangdao, by 18 miles.
Now let’s talk money. It’s China, which is still a communist state, so it’s no wonder that the overall cost of the project is more or less unknown. If we are to trust the local reports, which are very likely to be inaccurate just to boost people’s confidence in local leaders, the whole project needed CN¥10 billion (which is about $1.5 billion). On the other hand, there are reports claiming that costs were a lot higher, accounting for CN¥55 billion (approximately $8.8 billion).
According to Guinness World Records, this is the longest bridge over water, judging by aggregate length, while the second place goes to another Chinese project, this time the 36-km-long Hangzhou Bay Cross-sea Bridge.
A very interesting fact concerns the overall safety of the bridge. The weather-proof project, designed to withstand so severe hits, be they caused by natural disaster or by ships, was quickly criticized after the grand opening that took place on June 30, 2011.
Local reports claimed that the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge was lacking many safety elements that should protect the motorists, including signals and lighting systems, although they were supposed to be installed before the public opening. Curiously, drivers were still allowed to cross the bridge, as local authorities stated that it was ready for traffic despite the lack of certain elements. All the issues were quickly repaired in the following months, so the bridge is now probably as safe as it gets.
That being said, make sure you have a look at the photos and videos included in this article. Many of us won’t have the chance to see the bridge in this life, so the beautiful panoramas included here should help us control our appetite for the time being.