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Bridges help Guizhou live the high life

China Daily Global, March 20, 2023
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Huayudong Bridge in Qingzhen county, Guizhou province, was awarded the Gustav Lindenthal Medal, one of the most prestigious international bridge construction awards. Guizhou has nearly half of the 100 highest bridges in the world. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The province has seen commerce and connectivity rise as a result of major construction projects. LUO WANGSHU reports from Beijing with YANG JUN in Guiyang.

Since it opened in December, a bridge in the southwestern province of Guizhou has become a hit on Instagram, attracting crowds of tourists during January's Spring Festival holiday.

The 1,427-meter-long Dafaqu Grand Bridge, which crosses a deep valley in a mountainous area in the north of the province, is a large-span concrete-filled steel tube arch bridge. It is a key project in a freeway that links the Guizhou cities of Renhuai and Zunyi.

The main arch of the bridge — spanning 410 meters — has been painted red, providing a magnificent spectacle against the backdrop of the mountain and the valley, and drawing many tourists to view the surrounding scenery.

The bridge sits more than 280 meters above the valley floor, equivalent to the height of a 100-story building. The complicated terrain, such as the steep cliffs, meant its construction posed challenges for engineers and building workers.

The difficulties did not weaken official determination to build bridges in the region, though. Since most of Guizhou is hilly, resulting in uneven terrain, construction of roads requires greater investment and more advanced technology than in other areas. As a result, bridges have become a main option in the development of the provincial transportation network.

"In the early days, bridges and tunnels accounted for more than 45 percent of freeways in the province on average," said Liang Xianghua, chief engineer of the provincial transportation commission.

Recently, some freeways have been built with even more bridges and tunnels.

More than 77 percent of a freeway that opened in 2020 and links Jianhe and Rongjiang in Guizhou consists of bridges and tunnels. Construction of the road cost 19.2 billion yuan ($2.79 billion). "The cost was about twice that of building a freeway on the plains," Liang said.

By the end of 2021, the province had 29,660 bridges, including those that were operational and those under construction. Of them, 15,572 were built to facilitate freeways, the provincial transportation commission said.

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