The tallest buildings in the world keep popping up in different parts of the globe like mushrooms. Even the CTBUH (Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat) have a problem keeping their list up to date. But do you know which is the longest bridge in the world?
It’s the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China with a length of 26.4miles (42.48 km) which is longer than the length of the London Marathon (26 miles and 385 yards). You won’t be able to walk along the bridge as there is no pedestrian access expect for emergencies but to be honest do you really want to walk in a long monotonous line? The structure consists of two one-way bridges running alongside each other and with each bridge having three lanes.
We crossed the Bridge in November 2012 from Ningbo, the huge port city in the east of China, to Jiaxing outside of Shanghai and the driving time was cut from 5 to 2 and a half hours according to our very charming young guide. Before getting on the bridge we drove through an area which where fields were cultivated once upon a time but today are full of building sites occasionally broken by golden fields of rice surrounded by grey construction, a forest of power cables and tall cranes. The expansion took a huge toll in this area and the bridge was a result of the desperate need for fast and efficient (cheap) transfer of goods from the biggest port in China, Ningbo, to cities like Shanghai and Hangzhou.
The houses look very prosperous here, usually of two floors and the second floor with a glassed-in balcony. There is no front garden, only patches of rice stretching with military precision all the way to the front door. This is today’s prosperous China. But further down the road prosperous China shows her true colours – the harvesting is done manually and the fields are full of families working hard on bringing in the crop. Occasionally we come across a strange looking machine which would be on display in a museum in a Western country. The guide explains that the machine cost around US$75,000 – the farmers can’t afford to buy it but the province buys it and then rents it out to them. Also the farmers can’t make enough money from the rice fields and as result they cultivate other more profitable products during the year and this year it was strawberries. After the strawberry season was finished the farmers planted rice which was very late this year and as a result we had nice golden colours in November.
We entered the first part of the bridge by crossing a landscape covered in mud left by the tide. The view is plain and muddy. It seems like a different planet with no sign of life and the view through the bus window is monotonous and misty, making you sleepy. The mud under the bridge suddenly changes into brown water with a strong current making the waves very choppy. It looks like boiling water and the strength of it is scary. Somewhere on the horizon through the mist you can see plastic markers, yellow and in the shape of upside down ice-cream cornets, doing the job of lighthouses and warning ships of the presence of the bridge. They are like dancing ladies in the middle of nowhere.
We keep passing overloaded lorries and I keep checking the drivers’ faces to see any sign of boredom I only get a glimpse of the driver, one hand on the wheel and the other holding a mobile or food. The bridge seems an excellent place for drivers to relax. The Chinese Government worried about driver safety and decided to paint the railings of the bridge in different colours – 7 of them in the shades of the rainbow. Also the bridge is built in the shape of the letter S but if you are driving in the third lane you can barely see the railings and the length of the bridge is so long you don’t actually feel any bends of the letter S.
In the middle of the bridge there is an observation pier and in order to enter it you have to get off the main road and pay the toll which is hefty. The pier looks like the space shuttle just landed in the Yangtze River delta and when it landed it scared all off the local residents. It looks abandoned but to be honest there is not much to see. You just want to cross the bridge and leave this place.