The highest bridge in the world: China’s engineering feat

China is home to some of the greatest architectural feats in the world. Not only does it host a modern wonder like the Three Gorges Dam, the largest ship lift in the world, and a growing high speed rail network, the completion of this newest ambitious project means that eight of the world’s 10 highest completed bridges are now located in China – almost all are situated in remote mountainous provinces.

The Beipanjiang Bridge, currently the world’s highest, recently opened to traffic in rural China. Costing more than three years and 780 million RMB, the remarkable bridge is over 1,850 feet high and 4,399 feet long, connecting the remote provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou together. More than 44,000 tons of steel were used to build the bridge, and the cables at the top of the bridge put together would most likely stretch further than Beijing to New York.

Builders say that the biggest challenge was the foundations for the bridge. They had to scan the area below where the towers were going to be situated and find any existing caverns. They found one that was more than 100 meters wide, and builders had to drill all the way through the large cavern to find the solid areas and fill smaller holes with concrete.

Another problem was the structure itself. Because the bridge is so tall (and in order to save time and money), Chinese engineers had to use a different method in order to assemble the bridge. The traditional bridge-building method would be to assemble the beams one by one, but for this bridge, builders put entire sections together on the ground first, befinre lifting it up and fitting them onto the bridge. This technique has revolutionized bridge building in mountainous, rocky landscapes like this.

The Beipanjiang bridge is estimated to reduce journey time between the cities of Liupanshui and Xuianwei from five ours to just two. Additionally, potato farmers have praised the bridge, saying that what used to be a 5 hour walk on mountain paths with 30-40kg loads of potatoes, now only took 10-20 minutes.

Besides the Beipanjiang Bridge, Chinese engineers are also already constructing what’s set to be the world’s second highest bridge, Jinshajiang Bridge.

1,680 feet high and stretching across the Jinsha River, the Jinshajiang Bridge is a huge traffic link. Ground for this project was broken in 2015, and the project is expected to finish in 2021.

What will China come up with next?

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