China: Premature Entry for World’s Longest Sea Bridge

July 5, 2011 8:26 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:18 pm
The world's longest sea bridge opened recently in China, missing some railings and suffering a number of loose bolts. (From a Chinese website)
The world's longest sea bridge opened recently in China, missing some railings and suffering a number of loose bolts. (From a Chinese website)

The world’s longest bridge over water, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, which spans the 41.8 km (26 miles) from Qingdao to Hongdao in China’s Shangdong Province was opened to traffic on July 1. But when reporters went to cover the event, they found workmen still setting up some of the crucial safety features.

Fences that would stop cars from falling off had not yet been installed, according to an official report on July 4. Nor have the lights on either side of the bridge been connected.

Workers interviewed at the scene said that several months more are needed for the bridge’s final completion.

July 1 of this year was the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Large-scale public works projects, such as this bridge or the Three Gorges Dam, are often given a political hue so that the CCP and China are melded in the minds of the people.

The bridge, according to official estimates, cost US$1.5 billion and construction began in 2007. It has been designed to withstand possible disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons and collisions.

However, the true cost is unknown. Xinhua stated a $2.3 billion figure and England’s The Telegraph reported a whopping $8.8 billion.

The previous record holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, is 4.13 km (2.57 miles) shorter and was built in 1957.

Many workers were killed in August 2007 when the Tuojiang Bridge in Fenghuang County, Hunan Province collapsed. At the time, the bridge was not yet open and the workers were taking down the scaffolding. The construction materials became an issue as the bridge was constructed of stone and concrete instead of steel.

After an investigation, a local county deputy party secretary was sentenced to death because a childhood friend had bribed him for the construction contract.

Earlier that year, a pillar of another bridge that spans the Pearl River in Guangdong was struck by a freighter. The bridge completely collapsed and eight people died. Its design was also questioned as experts held that the use of pillars was impracticable due to the busy river traffic. After reconstruction, which was deemed to be more daunting than building a new bridge, it reopened in June 2009, six months behind schedule.

These incidents, coming after a Ministry of Communications report that categorized 6,300 bridges in China as structurally dangerous, inspired the head of the Institute of Bridges and Structural Engineering to remark that many of China’s new bridges were poorly designed and had been rushed to completion.

Read the original
Chinese article.

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