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China’s New Bridge Just Broke 10 World Records, and the World Acts Like It Didn’t Notice


Over the weekend, China unveiled the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link, a brand new system of tunnels and bridges that stretches across the sea in Guangdong province, southern China. 

It’s baffling why this is not the talk of the town everywhere around the world, because it should be, and here’s why. It is an engineering masterpiece that broke 10 world records. So move over, yee of longest fingernails and biggest ball of yarn world-record holders.

The bridge is nestled where the Pearl River estuary meets the South China Sea, a region considered one of the most populated places on Earth. The area makes up a mega-urban mashup including Hong Kong, Macau, and nine Guangdong cities, all separated by inconveniently large bodies of water.

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link span 24 km (or about 15 miles), is a marvel that connects the cities of Shenzhen and Zhongshan, sitting on opposite shores of the Pearl River estuary. And here’s the twist: it’s not just a long bridge but a combo of a submarine tunnel and bridges, linking two artificial islands with each city. Think of it as the world’s most elaborate game of connect-the-dots, but with cities and bodiers of water.

Boasting eight lanes where you can drive at speeds of up to 100 km/h, this bridge reduces the previous two-hour drive into a 30-minutes breeze. After seven years of hammering, drilling, and probably a lot of rice and spaghetti bowls, the link opened to traffic on June 30th at precisely 3:00 PM local time.

A Record-Breaking Extravaganza

According to China Global Television Network (CGTN), the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link didn’t just break records; it created a whole new niche of highly specific achievements. Here’s the hall of fame:

  1. Longest span of a steel box girder suspension bridge (1,666 m) – Because who wouldn’t want to brag about that at a party?
  2. Tallest bridge deck (91 m) – If you’re afraid of heights, just don’t look down.
  3. Highest navigational clearance for a maritime bridge – Perfect for those colossal ships with a Napoleon complex.
  4. Largest anchorage for an offshore suspension bridge (344,000 m3 of concrete) – That’s a lot of concrete, folks.
  5. Fastest wind resistance test speed for a suspension bridge (83.7 m per second) – Because if it can handle a hurricane, it can handle your Monday commute.
  6. Largest steel bridge deck with hot epoxy asphalt pavement (378,800 m2) – The engineers definitely brought their A-game here.
  7. Longest eight-lane, two-way immersed tube tunnel (5,035 m) – That’s right, it’s an underwater freeway.
  8. Widest concrete-coated steel immersed tube tunnel underwater (up to 55.6 m) – Who needs a regular tunnel when you can have the widest?
  9. Largest volume of self-compacting concrete for an immersed steel tube (29,000 m3 per tube section) – Concrete that’s both strong and compact? Yes, please!
  10. Widest M-shaped, repeatedly foldable water stop used in the final joint of an immersed tube tunnel (3 m) – A mouthful, but imagine the engineering marvel!

And if that wasn’t enough, this link features the world’s first underwater interchange for highways and airports. It’s like an underwater traffic controller’s dream come true!

Safety is top-notch, too. A battalion of 14 robots patrols the tunnel, keeping an eye on pipes, cables, and the occasional traffic mishap. These robotic overseers can even direct traffic and live-stream incidents to a remote control center. Talk about tech-savvy security!

Even the wall lights are color-coded for your safety. Green means all is well, red signals an emergency, and a cool transition from yellow to green guides folks to safety during an evacuation. It’s like driving through a high-tech rainbow.

So, next time you’re stuck in traffic, just remember, somewhere in Guangdong, there’s a tunnel and bridge system setting records and making history. And who knows? Maybe one day, your commute could be just as epic.

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