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Longest Glass Bridge Opens

Friday, August 26, 2016

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A new bridge in China’s Hunan Provice has quite a view—if you look straight down.

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, opened Saturday (Aug. 20) to much fanfare; it spans 430 meters (1,410 feet) across a canyon that’s 300 meters deep, making it the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge.

Tourist Attraction

Situated within a national forest, the bridge is a tourist attraction. According to reports, officials will permit 8,000 people to cross per day. The structure is cleared to hold up to 800 people at a time, but only 600 will be permitted. Tickets must be purchased in advance, for a sum equivalent to about $20.

The deck has an hourglass taper, narrowing to six meters (about 20 feet) at the center of the bridge and features 99 panes off transparent safety glass. The deck rests on two 2-foot-wide steel beams, and suspension cables extend from towers on each side of the canyon.

For those who aren’t thrilled enough by the glass bridge itself, the structure also reportedly hosts the world’s largest bungee jump, at 250 meters.

Cracks in the Glass

Glass bridges have become a trend in China in recent years. In October 2015, a newly opened span cracked, causing a panic. Officials said there was no threat to safety, though one witness told The New York Times, “It was not just a few cracks in the glass. The whole pane had shattered. Saying that I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill is slander.”

Architect rendering of the bridge
Haim Dotan Architects

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, shown in an artchitect's rendering, spans 430 meters (1,410 feet) across a canyon that’s 300 meters deep.

Leading up to the opening of the new bridge, officials held events showcasing the strength and stability of the structure and its glass floor. Members of the media pounded away at the glass with sledgehammers; someone drove a Volvo full of passengers across. The top layer cracked after being struck with force by a hammer, but the bridge held.

 

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Asia Pacific; Bridges; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Engineers; Glass; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management

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