Is China the Supreme Leader in Bridges?

November 11, 2016 | Comments

pingtang-bridge1Above the clouds, China’s Pingtang Bridge towers, the tallest of which are1,076 ft high, will make the Pingtang Bridge one of the tallest in the world. (Image courtesy of Bentley Systems.)

Bridge supremacy has again been claimed by China. Its CNY¥1.2 billion (USD$180 million),7,000-ft (2,135-m)-long Pingtang Bridge is being designed by the Guizhou Transportation Planning Survey and Design Academy to span the canyon of the Caodu River in the Qiannan region of the Guizhou province of China. With a main tower height of 1,076 ft (328 m), it should be the tallest in the world, according to Bentley’s description.

Civil engineers presented the design construction of the bridge at Bentley’s Year In Infrastructure 2016, where it was a finalist in the “Innovation in Bridges” category. However, it lost to a bridge design from Chile, which is being designed to overcome some of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded.

The Pingtang Bridge’s three-tower design is said to offer better force-bearing advantages than a two-tower design. To do so, engineers had to overcome challenges such as structural stiffness, fatigue stress and meeting cable tower force-bearing requirements. Bentley’s RM Bridge software was used to study the effects of various cable layout schemes and tower support systems.


Supreme Leader in Bridges

image003The other tallest bridge, France’s Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004. (Image courtesy of

However, France’s Millau Viaduct, arguably the most photogenic bridge of recent times, has its tallest tower listed at 1,125 ft (343 m), which would put the Pingtang Bridge in second place should all things stay the same by the time the Pingtang Bridge is completed. And while “world’s tallest” may be in dispute, there is no dispute about who leads in the total number of tall bridges. Of the 101 tallest bridges listed on Wikipedia, China has a whopping 66!

Looking at the “longest” category as well, a similar bridge-building propensity is apparent. Seventeen of the 20 longest bridges in the world are now in China. The Guizhou province, where the Pingtang Bridge is located, has seven of them.


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