This sea bridge/tunnel inaugurated in China breaks 10 world records

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Link opened on the last weekend of June. This is a new system of bridges and tunnels across the sea located in Guangdong province, in southern China. It is an architectural marvel that, according to its promoters, breaks 10 world records. They are not lying, but they are very specific.

The Pearl River Estuary, where the Pearl River flows into the South China Sea, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. It encompasses Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong. They are separated by vast bodies of water, making getting around quite difficult.

For great evils, great remedies, such as the Shenzhen-Zhongshan link. It measures no less than 24 km long to connect the two cities that bear its name, located on opposite banks of the estuary. It is not just a long bridge: in the middle there is a underwater tunnel between two artificial islandswith bridges connecting each island to the city on either side of the river.

The link, with eight lanes allowing speeds of up to 100 km/h, reduces what is normally a two-hour journey to just 30 minutes. After seven years of construction, the link opened to traffic on June 30. According to China Global Television Network (CGTN), the Shenzhen-Zhongshan link sets 10 new world records. They are not for the longest, highest or largest bridge, but their markings are hilariously specific:

  • Greater span (1,666 metres between supports) in a steel box girder suspension bridge built over the sea.
  • Highest bridge platform (91 meters).
  • Increased navigation authorization for a sea bridge.
  • Anchors of the largest marine suspension bridge (344,000 cubic meters of concrete).
  • Highest wind resistance test speed for a suspension bridge (83.7 meters per second)
  • Largest bridge deck with hot-mix epoxy asphalt pavement (378,800 square meters.
  • Longer eight-lane, two-track immersed tunnel (5,035 metres).
  • Submerged concrete tube and wider steel casing underwater tunnel (up to 55.6 metres).
  • Larger single volume casting for a steel casing submerged pipe using self-compacting concrete (29,000 cubic meters per pipe section).
  • Wider, repeatedly foldable M-shaped water stop used in the end joint of an immersed tube tunnel (3 meters).

In addition, they say it is also the world’s first underwater highway interchange and airport. Beyond the propaganda records, the tunnel includes interesting safety features, such as new fire extinguishing and smoke extraction systems. A team of 14 robots constantly patrol the tunnel, checking that pipes and cables are working properly. In the event of a car accident, they could even be used to direct traffic using built-in loudspeakers and transmit images of the scene to the control centre.

The lights on the walls are also colour-coded. When everything is OK, they are green, but in an emergency they turn red. They can also progressively change from yellow to green throughout the tunnel to help guide people in the right direction during an evacuation.

By the way, the longest sea bridge in the world is the one that connects Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau and it is only 31 km away from this one.

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