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High Winds Shake Up China’s Humen Bridge

Friday, May 15, 2020

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Earlier this month, a variety of online videos revealed that the Humen Bridge located in the Chinese province of Guangdong, was shaking and swaying severely while vehicles were traveling across.

According to reports, the shaking was caused by high winds, measuring up to 38 miles per hour.

The Incident

Opened in 1999, the Humen Bridge measures nearly 16 kilometers (almost 10 miles) long over the Pearl River, connecting Guangzhou and Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in Guangdong. The structure is China's first large suspension bridge, according to Global Times.

As a result of what is being called a “rare” vortex phenomenon, Guangdong traffic police temporarily closed the bridge around 3:32 p.m. local time on May 5, after the structure was officially cleared of vehicles. By 7 p.m., the strong winds had continued, causing the additional shut down of waters surrounding the bridge as well.

However, Zhang Xinmin, an engineer from the Humen Bridge management company claims that the bridge’s movement was normal.

Ge Yaojun, President of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering chimed in that the shaking was most likely a result of vortex vibration caused by the high winds and the previously installed 1.2-meter-high (roughly 4-feet-high) plastic crash barriers.

According to reports, the barriers—located on both sides of the bridge—were added by local authorities while changing the structure’s slings. Yaojun believes that the barriers were enough to change the bridge's aerodynamic structure.

Popular Mechanics further explains the barrier’s affect, describing that when intense winds rush over the wall, it then creates an air vacuum that pulls the surface of the bridge up and down, giving that shaking and swaying motion as seen in the video reports.

While some of the barriers have since been removed, heavy winds seemed to still be affecting the bridge’s movement. An investigation has since been launched into the incident by experts appointed by the Chinese Ministry of Transport, Yaojun and others.

In an announcement the day after the incident, Guangdong authorities reported that the experienced vibrations didn’t affect the security and durability of the Humen Bridge and that a preliminary inspection found no damages.

Data from the incident is plans to be collected as to help workers to deal with similar situations in the future.


Tagged categories: AS; Bridge cables; Bridges; Bridges; China; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Outdoor weathering; Project Management; Quality Control; Safety

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