China has opened the world’s longest cross-sea bridge – which stretches five miles further than the distance between Dover and Calais.
The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 26.4 miles long and links China’s eastern port city of Qingdao to the offshore island Huangdao.
The road bridge, which is 110ft wide and is the longest of its kind, cost nearly £1billion to build.
It took four years to build the bridge, which is supported by more than 5,000 pillars across the bay, and it is almost three miles longer than the previous record-holder – the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana.
That structure features two bridges running side by side and is 23.87 miles long.
The three-way Qingdao Haiwan bridge is 174 times longer than London’s Tower Bridge, spanning the River Thames, but cuts only 19 miles off the drive from Qingdao to Huangdao.
Two separate groups of workers have been building it from different ends of the structure since 2006.
The Qingdao Bay Bridge was built as part of the strategy to provide better connectivity between the two fast growing industrial regions on either side of the Bay. Qingdao, as one of the opened coastal cities, was playing a key role in the country’s development strategy. The Huangdao region was connected to the city of Qingdao through a ferry service across Jiaozhou Bay.
The three-ferry service was becoming insufficient because of the rising passenger and cargo levels.
The design involves three channel bridges – Cangkou, Red Island and Dagu Channel. The Cangkou bridge spans 260m, and the Red Island bridge spans 120m. Cangkou Channel Bridge is the first ocean interchange in China.
Cangkou and Red Island are cable-stayed bridges, while the Dagu Channel Bridge is a single-tower self-anchored suspension bridge. It spans 260m.
It claims to be the first self-anchored suspension bridge in the world with a single tower. The tower is 149m high.
The Jiaozhou bay tunnel runs beneath the Qingdao Bay Bridge. The 5,550m tunnel was opened along with the bridge. The six-lane two-hole tunnel was constructed over 3.5 years.
Flowers: The first vehicle runs into toll station to the applause of staff and passers-by after the bridge opened
Musical mileage: A brass band plays on the sides of the road as flags and banners herald in the opening of the bridge