Guizhou transforms its bridges into catalysts driving regional development

By Huang Xian (People's Daily) 13:58, March 06, 2024

Guizhou in southwest China is the only Chinese province that comes with no plain. Though the special geographical environment has brought development bottlenecks there, it also makes the province a perfect place for building world-class bridges.

So far, more than 30,000 bridges have been constructed or under construction in Guizhou, and nearly half of the world's highest 100 bridges are built there. The bridges spanning mountains and valleys have dramatically improved transportation in the province, which was once largely impassable due to its extreme mountainous terrain.

Tourists visit the Pingtang grand bridge in southwest China's Guizhou province. (People's Daily Online/Jia Zhi)

The bridges built in the province have further improved its road network. Today, Guizhou is home to over 200,000 kilometers of highways, including 8,000 kilometers of operational expressways. The province has become a real transportation hub in southwest China, which sees prosperous flow of people and goods.

"What a delight it is to enjoy the delicious food while admiring this magnificent bridge!" exclaimed Zhang Jing, a tourist who drove all the way to Guizhou from Shanghai, and had breakfast at a restaurant in the service area of Pingtang grand bridge, also known as the "Sky Bridge."

Outside the window stood the majestic Pingtang grand bridge, towering in the mountains and surrounded by the morning mist. The bridge officially opened in 2019, spanning across the Caodu River. With its main tower reaching 332 meters in height, it is currently the world's highest three-tower cable-stayed bridge, lauded as the "Sky Bridge" for its record-breaking height and graceful design.

The "Sky Bridge" sightseeing service area where Zhang had breakfast is just 1.3 kilometers away from the bridge, which is an ideal point to admire this world-class bridge.

In addition to the usual parking, refueling, and dining services expected of a service area, it also houses a gift shop, hotels, a lodge on the cliff, a shopping mall, photo spots, an RV park, an off-road racing field and other novel tourism facilities.

Photo shows the Longli River Bridge in southwest China's Guizhou province. (People's Daily Online/Yuan Fuhong)

Sightseeing is one of the key considerations when Guizhou builds bridges. For instance, viewing platforms were built when the Liuzhi grand bridge along the Nayong-Qinglong Expressway was constructed, so that it would be convenient for people to appreciate the grand sceneries.

Known as the "Museum of world Bridges", Guizhou is making full use of its bridge resources, with scenery and the bridges complementing each other. The fusion of bridges and tourism is becoming a new driver of tourism growth in Guizhou.

Driving along the expanded six-lane Banqiao to Xinpu section of the Lanzhou–Haikou Expressway in Guizhou province, one could get a sense of time travel while passing through the many tunnels and bridges. Along this 37-kilometer stretch, there are 13 bridges and seven tunnels, which make up 65.8 percent of the section's total length.

The Tuanze Service Area along the section is where the first expressway logistics park in southwest China locates. Goods can be directly distributed in the park without leaving the expressway system.

Song Meng, general manager of the service management company under Guizhou Expressway Investment Group, told People's Daily that building logistics parks in service areas gives play to expressways' advantages in location, traffic flow and transportation, and is thus beneficial for creating new business models and operations.

Photo shows the Kaizhou Lake grand bridge spanning the Luowang River in Kaiyang county, Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou province. (People's Daily Online/Chai Gengli)

"This is a proactive attempt for us to explore developing road economy along the expressways and promoting economic growth across the expressway network," Song said.

The bridges have not only boosted logistics, but also spawned clusters of B&B hotels. Located halfway up a hill in Manzhai village, Baishui township, Guanling Buyei and Miao autonomous county, the internet-famous B&B hotel Jianglu · Yueshan is known for its views of the Baling River Bridge. Since this Spring Festival, the hotel has been fully booked every day.

The popularity of the hotel has further unleashed the tourism value of the Baling River Bridge, with many boutique high-end B&B hotels clustering in Manzhai village, which generate over 16 million yuan ($2.22 million) annually.

Guizhou has cleverly capitalized on its bridges to stimulate economic growth across multiple industries, including tourism, local specialty processing, and catering.

By building on its inherent assets and strategically expanding roads and bridges, Guizhou has transformed tourism appeal and logistics capabilities into catalysts that drive regional development.

Photo taken on Jan. 31, 2024 shows the Nanming River grand bridge under construction in Guiyang, southwest China's Guizhou province. (People's Daily Online/Qiao Qiming)

(Web editor: Chang Sha, Liang Jun)


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