An insight into the world’s longest sea bridge: Qingdao Haiwan Bridge, China
Bridges provide beautiful examples of expert construction. And, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, in recent decades we have seen ever more ambitious and innovative bridge projects being built. In 2011, for example, China opened the world’s longest sea bridge, creating a structure that would easily span the English Channel and marking a pivotal moment in global construction history.
The need for the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge
China has ambitious construction goals and the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge was part of a drive to make the country’s infrastructure more effective and also better able to service local people and businesses. The bridge was designed to connect the Northern port city of Qingdao with an airport built on a nearby island and the industrial suburb of Huangdao. Qingdao is a booming port and the bridge helped business and industry in the area to smooth logistics and to reduce traffic, halving journey times between the two destinations. The bridge was built at the same time as a tunnel underneath the water which also helped to ensure that traffic congestion wouldn’t get out of control.
Building the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge
The bridge is something of a landmark construction in that it took just four years to build. According to Chinese state media it cost £1.42 billion to create the six lane 110ft-wide highway. Its Y-shaped construction took around 10,000 workers and 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete to construct. It also used a huge 450,000 tons of steel, which is enough to build 65 Eiffel Towers. In full use, the bridge carries around 30,000 cars each day reducing the distance between Quingdao city and the Huangdao district by around 18 miles.
The challenges involved
The bridge was a completely original construction and one that had to be tailored for the conditions of the local area. One of these was extreme weather conditions, which can hit this part of the world at any time. The bridge has been designed to stand up to potential threats to its structure, including extreme weather such as a magnitude 8 earthquake, as well as typhoons. It could also withstand the impact of a 300,000-tonne ship.
A world record holder
When construction was finished on the 42.4km Qingdao Haiwan Bridge it took the title of longest sea bridge in the world from the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the US state of Louisiana. The Chinese bridge was 4km longer than the bridge in Louisiana. Currently, construction on the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge – also in China – is under way and due to finish later this year. This second Chinese bridge could take the title from the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge as it is theoretically longer – however, only 35km of the new bridge is above the water so the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge could still retain the title.
China’s Qingdao Haiwan Bridge is an awe-inspiring piece of construction that demonstrates what is possible with ingenuity and technology. It will always be one of the most impressive structures in the world thanks to its design, scale and build.
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