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World's Highest Bridge Opens In China

The mountains of Guizhou province, China | © llee_wu/Flickr
The mountains of Guizhou province, China | © llee_wu/Flickr
The world’s highest bridge has opened to traffic in southwest China as of December 29, 2016. The Beipanjiang Bridge, which stretches from Guizhou province to Yunnan province, is a 1,341-meter-long suspension bridge built over a valley over 500 meters deep.

The bridge cost one billion RMB (US$144 million) to build. At its farthest point from the ground, its height is equivalent to that of a 200-story building, or one and a half times the Empire State Building in New York.

Stunning footage from CCTV of the bridge’s construction shows the bridge shrouded in clouds, as well as vertigo-inducing aerial shots.

Construction began in the mountainous regions of Guizhou and Yunnan in 2013, and the two sides were successfully connected in September 2016. Building over the 565-meter-deep gorge posed a significant challenge because of the violently strong winds over the valley. To ensure greater precision during the installation process, many parts of the bridge were not pre-assembled, as is usually the case, but put together on-site.

According to Chinese state media, the bridge will cut the travel time between the cities of Liupanshui in Guizhou and Xuanwei in Yunnan province from five hours down to two.

Previously, the title of the world’s highest bridge was held by the Sidu River Bridge in Hubei, also located in China. Meanwhile, the tallest bridge in the world (in terms of the height of the structure, rather than its distance from the ground) is France’s Millau Viaduct, which stands at 343 meters.

This bridge is not the first Chinese engineering feat to make major headlines this year. In September, the opening of a 430-meter-long glass-bottomed bridge across a scenic canyon in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, drew global attention.