For decades, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana has been the record-holder for the longest bridge over water in the world. In early 2011, Guinness World Records gave the title to the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Shandong, China.
The Xinhau news agency says more than $2.3 billion, 450,000 tons of steel and 81 million cubic feet of concrete were required for the bridge’s construction, which took four years and better than 10,000 pairs of hands to complete, but Chinese ingenuity succeeded in finally constructing a bridge spanning 26.4 miles over water. It’s six lanes wide, T-shaped, and it can withstand earthquakes and typhoons—not to mention the impact of a ship more than six times as heavy as the Titanic.
The bridge transects the Jiaozhou Bay and links the city of Qingdao, the Huangdao District and Hongdao island, cutting down citizens’ commute times by up to 20 or 30 minutes. It will be free to use for the next month, but a toll of 50 yuan, or $7.70, is expected in the near future, according to Time Magazine’s Newsfeed.
In addition to the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, three other bridges were opened in China on the same day, June 30: the 30-mile Beijing Grand Bridge, the 71-mile Tianjin Grand Bridge and the 102-mile Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge. This means as of July this year, 11 of the world’s 15 longest bridges reside within China.
When asked about the bridges and China’s expeditious rise of industrialization, 23-year-old Chinatown sightseer Joe Anderson said he sees “benefits as far as competition, as far as the United States stepping up… I think it should [motivate Americans to do a little more], but will it? I don’t know.”
While most people had no previous information on the topic, a few were still outspoken in sharing the idea that this should be a wake-up call for Americans. After all, only a minute fraction of Chicago’s population had any clue that China had constructed several new massive bridges, let alone that America has lost its status as the country with the longest bridge over water in the world. And while this is just one aspect of what makes a nation exceptional, America continues to lose statuses left and right.