China Builds World's Longest Trans-oceanic Bridge
With an estimated price tag of 11.8 billion yuan (1.42 billion US dollars), the 36-km-long bridge will be the longest of its kind in the world.
The stayed-cable bridge, linking Cixi City on the southern bank of the bay with Jiaxing City on the northern bank, will be built in five years.
With a designed life span of 100 years, it will have six lanes in two directions, with a designed driving speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
The bridge will shorten the journey between Shanghai and Ningbo by 120 kilometres, making it a 179-kilometre journey, Zhejiang Governor Lu Zushan said Sunday. "It will certainly enable each part of the delta to develop much closer relations with one another, and greatly enhance the area's overall economic growth,'' said Lu.
Wang Yong, chief director of the Hangzhou Bay Trans-Oceanic Bridge Construction Command Post, said the bridge will be one of the most important not only in China but in the world "for it is not only the longest one (over a sea) but also will be built in the world's most complicated sea environment, with one of the three biggest tides on Earth, the effect of typhoons and the difficult content of the sea soil.''
That is why preparatory work started on the bridge as far back as 1994, said Wang. During the past nine years, more than 120 technical research projects have been carried out on the planning of the bridge, with the help of more than 700 experts from throughout the world.
The Yangtze River Delta covers an area of 100,100 square kilometres and has a population of 135 million. It is regarded as the world's sixth-largest metropolitan area after London and Paris. It includes the 15 most prosperous cities in China as well as half of the country's 100 wealthiest counties.
Although the area has only 10.4 per cent of China's population, it accounted for 22.1 percent of the country's gross domestic products last year, 24.5 percent of the country's revenues and 28.5 percent of the country's import and export volume.
Governor Lu said: "It will be much easier for the area to jointly work on several grand projects, such as international tourism development, the building of world-class deep-sea ports, and so on.''
Recent schemes in the area include Shanghai's Yangshan deep-sea port, which involves investment of 12 billion yuan (US$1.45 billion) and is scheduled to be completed in 2005.
The development of Shanghai into an international shipping centre will also involve Ningbo, Zhoushan and Jiangsu Province's Taicang, which boast of some of the best deep channels in the country.
At the northern end of the Hangzhou Bay bridge, a new industrial zone is under construction in Jiaxing. It will cover an area of 25 square kilometres.
On the southern side, another new industrial zone with total investment of over 1.7 billion yuan (US$205 million) is also under construction.
Ningbo has become a new investment option for many transnational corporations in Shanghai. With more convenient transportation between the two, corporations are expected to be increasingly willing to invest in the city, where land prices are comparatively cheaper.
Another bridge is being built between the island city of Zhoushan and the mainland, costing 5.8 billion yuan (US$701 million).
Other large-scale projects being undertaken on both sides of Hangzhou Bay involve the chemical, steel and car industries.
"All these will surely combine to make a tremendous impact on the development of the whole delta area. A new era has arrived for the Yangtze River Delta,'' said Lu.
China's first self-designed and self-built bridge, the Qiantang River Bridge, about 200 km away from the new sea-crossing bridge, was completed in 1937. Up to now, China has constructed thousands of bridges on its rivers.
Construction of the new sea-crossing bridge is an indication of China's increasing economic power, and it is expected to boost economic development in the Yangtze River delta.
Following the Hangzhou Bay bridge, a number of sea-crossing bridges at the Bohai Bay, Huangdao in Shandong Province and East China Sea will be constructed involving more than 100 billion yuan(12.09 billion US dollars), authoritative sources have disclosed.
In the early 20th century, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, forerunner of the democratic revolution of China, had initiated the construction of a Hangzhou Bay trans-sea bridge.
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