Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, also called the Pearl Bridge Japan, became the world’s longest suspension bridge when measured by the length of its main span in 1998. It retains that ranking today. The other famous bridges on the top five longest list include the Xihoumen Bridge in China, the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark, the Runyang Bridge over the Yangtze River in China, and the Humber Bridge in England.
The Pearl Bridge Japan suspension bridge spans the Akashi Strait, connecting the city of Kobe on Honshu Island to Awaji Island. The Akashi Strait is part of the Inland Sea, a significant and busy international waterway that touches on the important port of Osaka. One of the facts about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is that it provides a critical and cost-saving transportation link to the three main islands of Japan.
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge also provides more economical and faster transportation to Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, and Kagawa. The Pearl Bridge Japan even makes getting to the city of Iwakuni and the famous stone Kintai Bridge easier. The Kintai Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in all of Japan. Built in the seventeenth century, it is an elegant historic structure around which several thousand trees burst out in beautiful cherry blossoms each spring.
The historical facts about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge began as long ago as 1955, when a ferry crossing the Akashi Strait sank when it collided with another ferry. A total of 168 people, mostly children, on the first ferry drowned in the disaster. Engineers and planners were faced with the challenge of creating a bridge that would withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes. They needed a structure that would not impede busy and crucial commercial shipping. The current structure has withstood the 1995 Kobe earthquake that measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and can weather winds up to 180-miles-per-hour.
Construction on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge finally began in 1988. Ten years and 2 million workers later, the bridge was opened in 1998. It was a monumental engineering feat that required enough steel cable to encircle the earth seven times. It ranks with the huge Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, Palm Deira Island in Dubai, the Bird’s Nest Stadium of the Beijing Summer Olympics, and the Viaduct de Millau in France as one of the greatest engineering marvels of the last couple centuries.
Other fascinating facts about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge include its length of 12,828 feet, long enough to accommodate the Brooklyn Bridge four times. You can lay eight Chicago Willis Towers along its length. It is one of the longest bridges in the world, and is the world's largest suspension bridge. Its towers also enter into any book of records. They are 928 feet high, making it the third tallest in the world, after the Villau Viaduct and the Sutong Bridge in China. Being the tallest doesn’t necessarily make it the highest. Highest is measured by distance between the surface of the bridge and the ground/water surface below. By this standard, the Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City, Colorado, is higher. Even though its towers are only 150 feet long, it is a fairly breathtaking 1,053 feet above the canyon floor and river below.
Image: 5thLuna (flickr)