3 November 2022
Bold Bridges Series
China’s Grand Bridge: Engineers & Designers Go the Distance to Achieve a World Record
She’s been up since three in the morning, finalizing the picking and packaging of her flowers, carefully crated, and loaded into her rusty, aging pick-up truck. The faster she can get them to the market, the better her chances of fetching a good price from the agents who haggle and barter to secure the cheapest price they can for their international clients. The longer she sits in this blasted traffic, crawling along at a snail’s pace, her prized cargo slowly wilting in the morning sun, the less she takes home to care for her young son, and to add to her savings for a refrigerated truck. Mei-Ling glances across at the construction site of the new bridge and prays it will make all the difference to her livelihood and the future of her family. If you’re a bridge designer or civil engineer, this is the impact your work has on the lives of others, and on behalf of Mei-Ling and millions like her, we thank you.
Do the ever-polite Chinese experience road rage? With over 302 million registered cars on the road in China, one can barely imagine the congestion and extended commute times. In eastern China, the Yangtze River Delta — a triangle-shaped megalopolis — has a population of over 140 million people, covers an area of approximately 39,000 square miles, and is therefore prone to unbearable bottlenecking. In an effort to alleviate the congestion, and at a cost of around $8.5 billion, the Chinese built a solution that now enables easier travel for 80 million passengers each year. By pushing boundaries and through the magic of CAD and BIM, civil engineers designed a bridge — perhaps we should say the bridge — that has eased the area’s overcrowded roads. Welcome to the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge. See that happy young woman, tooling along in a shiny new refrigerated truck? We know who that is, don’t we?
The bridge is designed to withstand hurricanes and magnitude-eight earthquakes and can survive a direct hit from a 300,000-tonne naval vessel.
A Billion Pounds of Steel: A Long-Distance Affair
The trip between Beijing and Shanghai used to take around ten hours but now takes about half that time. Similarly, Jiaxing to Ningbo used to take around four and a half hours by public transport but now takes less than two. The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge forms part of the 819-mile Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, which allows trains to average approximately 217 miles per hour.
The Grand Bridge is over 102 miles in length and in some places, it soars gracefully over the water, around 100 feet above the windswept surface below. The landscape it spans includes canals, rivers, lowland rice paddies, lakes, and uneven terrain, yet the undulating bridge was impressively completed within the estimated four-year timeframe through the efforts of the 10,000 workers who labored to make the dream a reality.
A 5.6-mile section of the bridge spans the Yangcheng Lake, with 2,000 pillars and 450,000 tonnes (992,070,000 lbs.) of steel used to support the structure over the water. The remainder of the bridge required 9,500 concrete pilings.
The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is not only considered the longest bridge in the world, but also one of the strongest. It is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes and magnitude eight earthquakes, and can survive a direct hit from a 300,000-tonne naval vessel.
Oddly enough, the bridge’s designer is unknown. All that is known is that it was designed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a subsidiary of the China Communications Construction Company. This is a government-funded company that is responsible for major civil engineering projects in China, such as highways, railways, bridges, ports, and tunnels.
The Impact of Reduced Congestion
The impacts of reduced congestion and faster travel times are immense. For the grain, cotton, hemp, and tea farmers in the area, it means getting goods to market faster. This equates to fresher goods earning higher prices, which raise the farmer’s standard of living. For the countless factories in the area, it means being able to send and receive goods much faster, increasing production and improving their bottom line. And for the millions who rely on public transport, the bridge’s dedicated bus lane means shorter commutes which allows for an extra few minutes of shut-eye in the morning. And who doesn’t love an extra few minutes of sleep?
Shorter commutes allow for an extra few minutes of shut-eye in the morning. And who doesn’t love an extra few minutes of sleep?
As an architect, engineer, or CAD/BIM designer who uses MicroStation®, Revit®, or AutoCAD®, wouldn’t it be great to shave some time off your projects? How great would it be to not have to stay late or put in extra time over the weekend? Imagine getting through your tasks as fast and as smoothly as a high-speed train.
Axiom can help you achieve that goal with purpose-built software that enhances productivity and speeds up your process. MicroStation tools are here, Revit help is here, and AutoCAD options are here.
Alternatively, feel free to call 727-442-7774 to discuss your specific requirements with a knowledgeable Service Consultant. Our goal is to get you home on time. Axiom: CAD and BIM made easier.