Beipanjiang Bridge, the world's tallest, opens to traffic in rural China
The four-lane road span of the Beipanjiang Bridge soars more than half a kilometre over the river below CREDIT: XINHUA/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
The world’s highest bridge has opened to traffic in a remote, mountainous part of China, adding to the country’s impressive roster of megastructures.
The Beipanjiang Bridge links the province of Guizhou and Yunnan and is expected to reduce road travel times from Liupanshui to Xuianwei from five hours to two. Its 1,341-metre span of four-lane road deck soars 564 metres over the Beipan River, making it the highest – if not the tallest – in the world.
China is also home to the second and third highest bridges - the Sidu River Bridge and the Puli Bridge, respectively - as well as other modern wonders such as the Three Gorges Dam (and its ship lift, the world’s largest) and growing high speed rail network.
The Guangzhao Dam is a concrete gravity dam a few miles north of the Beipanjiang Bridge, designed to generate electricity using hydroelectric power generation.
The Beipanjiang is the highest rather than the tallest bridge. The tallest bridge - the bridge with the tallest structure, regardless of distance from the valley floor - remains the Millau Viaduct, a joint British-French venture on the A75 Autoroute. The road deck here is held a mere 270 metres – less than half the height of the Beipanjiang Bridge.
The Beipan river, over which the Beipanjiang Bridge carries traffic, is part of the great Pearl River basin. Because of its geography, the bridges that cross it tend to be remarkably high.