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The Marvel of Engineering – China’s White Elephant

The Marvel of Engineering – China’s White Elephant

We bet you have heard of China’s White Elephant, touted as one of the engineering wonders of the world. The white elephant is the longest bridge in China and the world. The world’s longest sea bridge runs across the mouth of the Pearl River, connecting Hong Kong to other administrative regions of Macau and Zhuhai. The Y-shaped bridge stretches for 55 kilometers, includes a 6.7 kilometers undersea tunnel, and 4 artificial islands.

The brain behind this ingenious project and chief designer of the main section of the bridge, Meng Fanchao, admitted that designing the bridge was a very delicate project. One hitch in the design would affect the rest of process and this could cost the government a lot of money. The main reason for building the bridge was to cut journey times between the two cities, enabling commuters and tourists to easily move around the region.

Jiaozhou Bay Bridge

Brilliant Engineering effort

The planning and designing of the main section of the bridge took 6 years with the actual construction taking 8 years. While many may agree that 14 years is a long time to build a bridge, this also goes to show you how intricate this project was. The construction of the Hong Kong- Zhuhai- Macao bridge was quite complicated. To put it into perspective, this bridge is designed to withstand a magnitude of 8 earthquakes, a super typhoon, and strikes by super-sized cargo ships. The bridge has been built with 400,000 tons of steel which is 4.5 times the amount used in the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.
Designing the bridge so that its practical while still making sure the design is aesthetically pleasing is no mean feat. Software such as SAAP and Midas Civil software used specifically for designing bridges has made it possible to design bridges in all shapes and sizes. From arch bridges, cantilever bridges to suspension bridges, it has become possible to build any type of bridge.
These amazing engineering software has enabled civil engineers to make informed decision concerning various issues like; compression, tension or stretch, torsion and twisting, deck flexibility and the materials to be used. The Ponte dei Quattro Capi bridge which dates back to 62 BC and spans across the Tiber River in Rome is a testament of what engineering can do. The bridge is still in use up to date and will serve generations to come.

More Amazing Bridges

Besides this bridge, there are other fascinating bridges such as Zhangjiajie Bridge which is transparent and spans 1,000 feet which is about the length of 3 football fields. The floor of the bridge is made from Plexiglas offering a spectacular view of the valley 600 feet below. Since its opening in September 20th, it has been a popular tourist attraction. What’s more? The bridge is designed to sway when it’s windy so it’s a perfect place for an adrenalin junkie.
The glass suspension bridge is constructed out of 2.7cm thick glass and can withstand 800kg per square meter. Meanwhile, another glass bridge is nearing completion just 186 miles away from the Zhangjiajie bridge. It is touted as the longest and tallest glass bridge in the world.