Is there really such a thing as a bridge too far? Author, Cornelius Ryan, used that title for his best selling World War II drama that became a popular movie in the 1970s. There is, however, no allegory intended here in the construction of the three-way Qingdao-Haiwan Bridge, which extends from the bustling eastern Chinese port of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao.
The world’s largest bridge stretches more than 26 miles long and is five miles longer than the Dover-Calais crossing and almost three miles longer than the previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. This bridge is also 174 times longer than London’s Tower Bridge over the Thames River.
At the cost of $8.5 billion, the bridge is specifically designed to withstand an earthquake of 8 magnitude and tropical typhoons with winds up to 125mph. Initiated back in 2006 with two separate groups of workers building the different ends of the structure, the six-lane expressway stretches from Qingdao to Huangdao and the Pearl River Delta city of Zhuhai.
Slated to carry over 30,000 cars per day when it opens to commuters at the end of 2011, it is expected that this bridge will dramatically reduce travel distance along the route between Qingdao and Huangdao by 30km (more than 18 miles) and shave about 20 minutes off the total travel time.
Although everything went well when construction was completed in December, there were still concerns.
“The computer models and calculations are all very well but you can’t really relax until the two sides are bolted together. Even a few centimeters off would have been a disaster,” commented one engineer.
Fame however, is fleeting, and this bridge will only remain the world’s largest for a few years when it is expected that its length will be bested by still another Chinese bridge that will link southern Guangdong province with Hong Kong and Macau. This one is set for completion in 2016 and will span nearly 50 km (30 miles).
It would seem that famed vaudevillian, Jimmy Durante. was right when he said that “everybody wants to get into the act!”