Nestled amid the lush mountainous vistas of Hunan province in central China, is Aizhai Bridge. Also referred to as “Aizhai Suspension Bridge”, this phenomenal structure is a marvel of modern engineering. Part of the Baomao Expressway, it is the highest and longest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge in the world. The bridge was constructed as part of the expressway that when fully completed will cover over 3,000 km. Offering truly breathtaking panoramic views when crossing it, Aizhai Bridge is a marvel of ingenuity and an attraction that cannot be missed.
- Aizhai Bridge crosses Dehang Grand Canyon with a main span of 1,146 metres (3,760 ft.) and is 336 metres above the ground.
- Construction took four years to complete, and was ahead of schedule.
- It is the longest and highest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge on Earth, and was constructed to ease the mountainous region of Hunan province near Jishou.
- It is the seventh highest bridge on Earth, and the world’s fifteenth-longest suspension bridge.
- Because of its height and spectacular views, Aizhai Bridge was the site of an international BASE-jumping festival in September 2012.
History Of Aizhai Bridge
Construction on Aizhai Bridge commenced in October 2007. It was part of a national expressway from the Chongqing to Changsha. The expressway’s total length was 64 km (including 52 bridges and 11 tunnels), in addition to upgrades on about 129 km of existing local roads. The entire construction project cost roughly $610 million.
Situated deep in the heart of beautiful Hunan province near Jishou, Aizhai Bridge is the largest structure on the expressway from Jishou to Chadong. Engineers constructed two tunnels on either side of the bridge, ingeniously using one of the mountaintops for the location of one of the towers. This method reduced the overall cost of the bridge’s construction, and likewise, it blends more naturally into the environment. As a safety precaution, a substantial number of rock anchors were constructed at the surface of the rock, to ensure the stability of the bedrock. In addition, an extensive study was undertaken to ensue the safest method of construction.
Spanning across Dehang Canyon, Aizhai Bridge was one of the key structures of the entire expressway project. It was situated at the halfway point of the expressway, near the village of Aizhai, hence its name. Construction on Aizhai Bridge was completed at the end of 2011, ahead of schedule. Almost immediately, it became a major tourist attraction for the region. Visitors can enjoy a walkway partly made of glass, which is accessible via a large group of elevators and escalators. Aizhai Bridge is world-renowned for the spectacular views enjoyed by those who cross it.
Culture Of Aizhai Bridge
Aizhai Bridge gets its namesake from the tranquil, neighbouring village of Aizhai. The Miao people, who primarily live in the mountains of southern China, inhabit this wonderful village. The Miao live in Hunan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and Yunnan, among other provinces.
Because of the remote mountainous location of Aizhai, the Miao inhabitants have maintained a more traditional lifestyle. Residents live in wooden houses built on stilts in the ganlan-style, called “diaojiaolou”. Essentially, ganlan-style refers to any structure that is supported by wooden stilts or columns. The diaojiaolou in Aizhai are all two or three storeys high. Visitors to the village get a glimpse of the fascinating and unique culture and traditions of the Miao people.
Adjacent to Aizhai Bridge is a meandering section of the China National Highway 319 (G319). This 6 km stretch of road snakes along the mountain and has 13 tight bends, with astounding 70 to 90 degree angles. The highest section of the road is 440 meters, and is about 7 meters wide. Construction on this section of the highway was completed in 1935.
- Visitors to Aizhai Bridge can enjoy a walkway partly made of glass, which is accessible via a large group of elevators and escalators.
- The bridge is lit with 1,888 lights, making for easier visibility at night.
- The walkway is open from 8 AM to 5:30 PM.
- Although not the best idea for those afraid of heights, Aizhai Bridge offers breathtaking views of Dehang Canyon and the surrounding region.