See the largest, tallest, longest and most impressive bridges in the world.
You probably used them every day, but did you ever stop to consider how amazing the bridges are? They are huge openings of concrete, metal and wires that weigh thousands of tons, but remain standing even through destructive and violent natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes.
Bridges are also key to the way we move and serve as an important tool for many people who travel daily. In spite of this, how often do you read a piece, extolling the greatness of the bridges, or listening to an ode to its wonders? Not very often, by our measure. We’re going to correct that, okay? Here is a quick sample of the largest bridges there are.
AKASHI KAIKYO BRIDGE
The longest suspension bridge
|Japan||1998||2.43 miles||Satoshi Kashima|
The suspension bridges are architectural engineering works. Think about it: a giant structure of wires and towers that manipulate tension and compression to allow a single stretch of heavy material to suspend itself in the air, allowing it to bridge large chasms and bodies of water. The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge, but the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (also known as the Pearl Bridge) holds the title for the longest in the world. This 2.4 mile long bridge crosses the Akashi Strait and connects the city of Kobe on the mainland of Honshu with the island of Awaji. Since 1998, the bridge has transported six lanes of traffic and approximately 23,000 cars per day between the two cities.
The impressive central section is located as the longest in the world with 1.24 miles long, and the bridge itself is built to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 8.5. In fact, during construction, the 1995 Kobe earthquake forced the two central towers to separate, making the center section longer than it was originally designed. But earthquakes are not the only natural disaster that Akashi Kaikyo is designed to endure. The region is also prone to typhoon activity, so the designers also built it to withstand 180 mph winds.
HONG KONG-ZHUHAI-MACAU BRIDGE
The longest cross-sea bridge
China, long ago, consolidated itself as one of the main countries in the construction of bridges, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge only further consolidates the country’s reputation. At 31 miles in length, it is the longest sea bridge in the world, twice as long as the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, the longest bridge in the world.
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau has completely changed transportation between cities. The old interior route between Hong Kong and Macao is a four-hour walk: on the bridge, the travel time can be as little as 30 minutes. Chinese officials hope the bridge will reject economic development in southern China, one of the poorest areas of the country. At the same time, it reinforces Hong Kong’s position as the economic heart of the region.
While the bridge is the longest bridge that crosses the sea, it consists of two sections and three artificial islands. The connection of the two sections is a 1.7-mile tunnel closer to the Hong Kong side, which provides enough space for large vessels to pass.
However, not everything has gone according to plan. Construction began in 2009, but the ongoing problems with land reclamation caused significant delays. The construction of the bridge ended in mid-2017, but the paving of the bridge was not completed until early 2018. The cost of the bridge is staggering: with $ 18.3 billion, it is one of the most expensive in the world.
LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN CAUSEWAY
The longest continuous bridge over water
|Louisiana, United States||1956||23.87 miles||Louisiana Bridge Company|
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge currently has the longest bridge span of any of the bridges on our list in the world in total at 30.1 miles, but the longest and most continuous stretch over the water is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana . It is a 23,87-mile long, low-level trestle bridge that sits across Lake Pontchartrain and connects New Orleans with Mandeville on the other side, as well as the rest of the southeastern United States without having to drive around the lake.
After completion of construction, the communities on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain saw financial benefits, as they were now included in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Driving times were reduced by almost an hour. With a speed limit of 65 mph, you can cross the bridge in approximately 20 minutes.
Although not necessarily built to withstand major hurricanes, Causeway was able to withstand the hurricane storm surge of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with relatively little damage. The bridge itself played a crucial role in delivering emergency supplies to the city of New Orleans and was only closed for three weeks after the storm, the only time that Causeway had closed to traffic since its opening.
The tallest bridge
|Aveyron, France||2004||1.53 miles||Norman Foster, Michel Virlogeux|
We have paid a lot of attention to bridges with impressive lengths, but that is not the only measure that makes a bridge worthy of mention. The highest bridge in the world, that is, the height of the highest point of the structure, is the Viaduct of Millau, located in Aveyron, France. The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that extends 1.5 miles through the valley of the Tarn River. The highway lanes are at 890 feet at their highest point on the Valley floor, but the structure itself rises another 235 feet above a total height of 1,125 feet, making it an iconic landmark of the field of France.
Ruled as one of the greatest feats of modern engineering, the iconic look of the bridge and the impressive engineering behind it are the result of the cable-stayed design of the viaduct, which uses high-tension towers to support thick steel cables that they support the weight of the spans of the structure.
The highest bridge
|Guizhou, China||2016||4,400 feet||Peng Yundong|
The highest is one thing, but the highest is another, and the higher we refer to the length between the bridge section and the lowest point of the ground below it. That record belongs to the Duge Bridge (also known as Beipanjiang Bridge Duge) in Guizhou, China. Although the cable-stayed bridge is only 4,400 feet long, it connects two sides of a deep valley. The section floats at a height of 1,854 feet above the ground at the deepest point, and could be located at the One World Trade Center in New York City below it, with another 80 feet or so.
Beipanjiang Bridge Duge is not alone in the province of Guizhou. Fun fact: the region has more of the bridges higher than any other country in the combined land, and by 2020 there will be more than 250 bridges in heights above 330 feet in the province. While that may seem like a lot, all those bridges fulfill an important and necessary function. Before the construction of a serious bridge began, it was difficult to travel through the mountainous and gully-ridden countryside of Guizhou, and most of the transportation was on small, two-lane roads.
OTHER NOTABLE BRIDGES
India’s Living Root Bridges
In the Indian state of Meghalaya, in the northeastern part of the country, there is a remarkable practice of training fig trees to become bridges. Caregivers slowly but surely manipulate the roots of the trees as they grow, pushing and weaving them in corridors and river crossings. The process can take up to 15 years, but once completed, the bridges can be used between 500 and 600 years. As the trees grow, the bridges become more resistant thanks to the strengthening and thickening of the roots. Bridges also have a particularly useful attribute of self-renewal, especially since they do not require the same type of maintenance as man-made structures. Also, they look great.
Lucky Knot Bridge
|Changsha, China||2016||600 feet||Next Architects|
Another interesting pedestrian bridge comes from Next Architects, based in China. These designers were inspired by the Mobius ring, which is a twisting, knotting ring, a form of Chinese folk art that uses knots to create decorative shapes. The bridge passes approximately 78 feet above a river and extends for more than 600 feet in length. Three pedestrian lanes slide up and down through your spine, connecting two parks on opposite sides of a river.
Eshima Ohashi Bridge
|Chugoku, Japan||2004||5,577 feet||NEXT Architects|
You will feel that you are about to get on a roller coaster while you contemplate the Japanese bridge of Eshima Ohashi, but it is more an optical illusion than anything else. The structure that evokes the beginnings quickly became a sensation of the Internet once it was completed in 2004, mainly because a large number of viral images made the bridge ratings seem more pronounced than they really are. In fact, ratings on both sides are about 5.1 and 6.1 percent, and those who have traveled over the bridge say it’s no different than driving on a hill. Still, current ratings do not make the images less frightening.