China’s New Bridge Boom

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While politicians in the United States argue over how badly to hurt our own healthcare system, other countries get to work on infrastructure and other needed projects that will pave the way for their future successes. China is no doubt in the lead on this front, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure, from massive high-speed rail projects, to giant wind and solar projects, to a slew of new enormous bridges. Many of these bridges have already taken the mantle as the world’s biggest, longest, highest.  Americans will have to wait to see if our own aging infrastructure will get the boost that it so badly needs.

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The New York Times has a great in depth look at China’s bridge boom, and the results from their massive undertaking. The dirty underbelly of these projects is huge debt, corruption, and in some cases, empty or underutilized bridges, begging the question, why?

For the most part, the bridges are a soaring success, a testament to China’s vastly improved quality control, and their ability to tackle huge construction projects with speed.

From the Times:

“The amount of high bridge construction in China is just insane,” said Eric Sakowski, an American bridge enthusiast who runs a website on the world’s highest bridges. “China’s opening, say, 50 high bridges a year, and the whole of the rest of the world combined might be opening 10.”

Of the world’s 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China, including some unfinished ones, according to Mr. Sakowski’s data. (The Chishi Bridge ranks 162nd.)

The article is well worth a read. Hugely informative about infrastructure, it shows how much of a lead China is building over the rest of the world, despite the many costs that come with it.  The most striking photo to us is the top one, showing the huge disparity in wealth, with a modern new bridge in the background, and poor farmers shoveling dirt in the foreground.

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The cost of crossing the new Chishi Bridge is only $3, but that’s out of reach for most of the people who live the staggering 610 feet below it.

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Clockwise from top left: the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in Qingdao, in Shandong Province; the Duge Beipan River Bridge, in Guizhou Province; the Aizhai Bridge, in Hunan Province; the Beipan River Shanghai-Kunming high speed rail bridge in Guanling Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Anshun, a city in southwest China’s Guizhou Province.

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