One of the longest bridges in the world can be found in the east of China.
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting Hangzhou Bay Bridge facts!
1. It’s located in the Zhejiang province on the east coast of China
The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is located in the eastern coastal region of China. It crosses the mouth of Hangzhou Bay and connects Jiaxing and Ningbo, two major cities in the Zhejiang province.
Hangzhou Bay is one of the major inlets of the East China Sea. It definitely wasn’t the easiest location to build a bridge because this bay features the world’s largest tidal bore, a wave that travels upstream.
This tidal bore has a height of up to 9 meters (30 feet) and travels at a speed of up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour!
2. It greatly reduces the travel time between 2 major cities
To give an indication of the number of people living in the area, Jiaxing has a population of about 4.5 million and Ningbo nearly 10 million. These cities are still dwarfs compared to Shanghai, which is located just to the northeast of the bridge and has a population of over 26 million inhabitants!
The bridge was built to form an important link between the cities of Shanghai and Ningbo. It has helped to reduce the travel distance from 400 kilometers (249 miles) to just 180 kilometers (112 miles).
This means that people can travel between the two major cities in just 2 hours instead of more than 4 hours!
3. It consists of 2 portions which are supported by cables
The bridge is a so-called cable stayed bridge and consists of 2 separate portions which are connected to each other.
This particular type of bridge, which utilizes cables to support the deck of the bridge, is suitable to deal with the harsh conditions of the bay below which is able to produce the strongest tidal waves on the planet.
4. It’s still one of the longest bridges in the world
The total length of the bridge is a whopping 35.673 kilometers (22 miles). This makes it the 14th-longest bridge in the world at the moment of writing this article (January 2021).
One of the most remarkable Hangzhou Bay Bridge facts is that the longest span of the bridge is only 448 meters (1,470 feet) in length, which is relatively short considering the overall length of the bridge.
In reference, the bridge with the longest span in the world at the moment is the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan with a length of 1,991 meters (6,532.2 feet).
5. It only took 4 years to complete this massive bridge
Perhaps the most fascinating of all Hangzhou Bay Bridge facts is that it only took 4 years to complete this massive structure. Construction had started on June 8, 2003, and the bridge was completed on June 14, 2007.
The bridge didn’t instantly open for traffic, though, because serious testing was conducted for nearly a year. The 6-lane bridge finally opened for vehicles on May 1, 2008.
6. Over a decade and 100’s of experts were needed to design the bridge
What makes the Hangzhou Bay Bridge such a marvelous feat of engineering is that this location is probably the most complicated place on the planet to build a long bridge like this.
The bay doesn’t such feature the strongest tidal waves on the planet, it’s also prone to earthquakes and has to sustain extremely strong winds during typhoon season. All of these elements had to be taken into account.
Because of this, careful planning was required, a process that took nearly a decade and which involved over 600 experts in the field!
7. The bridge doesn’t consist of concrete piles for a particular reason
Two massive cranes were involved in the construction to put the elements of the bridge together. One weighed over 2,200 tonnes while the biggest one weighed an astounding 3,000 tonnes, strong enough to lift the bridge’s massive girders into position.
They weren’t involved in pouring concrete foundations though. This is because the piles that support the bridge are made out of steel.
While one of the reasons was the fact that steel piles made it easier to construct the bridge, the main reason steel was chosen was that it’s much less prone to corrosion caused by the strong tidal forces of Hangzhou Bay.
8. The original plan was to build it much closer to the bay’s mouth
During the decade of debating the design of the bridge, the most important question to be answered was where the exact location of the bridge was supposed to be.
One of the most intriguing Hangzhou Bay Bridge facts is that the original plan was to construct the bridge way further into the mouth of the bay. This plan had the bridge connected to Jinshan, a suburb in the southern part of Shanghai.
Even though this plan would have increased the saved travel time even further, the Shanghai Government rejected this idea and instead focused on building a bridge that would be directly beneficial to the major Yingshan port.
This decision has resulted in an equally impressive bridge called the Donghai Bridge which has a length of 32.5 kilometers (20.2 miles). This bridge was completed on December 10, 2005.
9. The bridge’s towers are modeled on the world’s most famous tower
One of the main reasons why the main spans of the bridge were made relatively short is that this significantly reduces the wind load of the bridge.
Regardless, the two main towers of the bridge were modeled after the most famous tower in the world, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which is why this particular bent shape was used to divert the wind loads to the core support structure of the bridge.
10. A huge tourist attraction was built in the middle of the bridge
One of the most amazing Hangzhou Bay Bridge facts is that right in the middle of the bridge, a massive tourist attraction was constructed as well!
This attraction consists of a 10,000 square meters (110,000 square feet) facility consisting of a shopping center, restaurants, and an exhibition.
The centerpiece of this attraction is the observation tower which reaches a height of 145.6 meters (478 feet) and which offers stunning views over Hangzhou Bay, the East China Sea, and major cities located in the area!