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.

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.

A fine example of ingenuity and what’s possible with astute CAD and BIM design, the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge sports soaring off-ramps, on-ramps, and a bridge tall enough for naval traffic to pass through.

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

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?