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The Hangzhou Bay Bridgeis one of Chinas longest highway bridge located in the eastern costal regions of China. The bridge connects the municipalities of Jiaxing and Ningbo in Zhejiang province and is approximately 35.673 km in length. In a global context, The Hangzhou Bay Bridge is one of the world’s longest trans-oceanic bridge that was completed in 14th June 2007. However, the bridge was not open from public use immediately after its completion but it was not until may 1, 2008 that the bridge was made public after a period of testing and evaluation. Basically, the bridge shortened the highway travel distance between Ningbo and Shanghai which were previously approximately 400 km apart. This distance was reduced to 280 km thus the time taken to travel between the two provinces reduced form 4 hrs to 2.5 hrs.
This major bridge in china was subject to a long feasibility study for over a decade since the approval of the plan for the construction of the bridge in 2003. However, the original plan was to place the bridge closer to the mouth of the bay a situation that would have seen the distance between Ningbo and Shanghai shortened even further. Under the initial plan, the bridge was to initially begin from a suburb in Shanghai a move which saw the Shanghai government reject the plan and focus more on the construction of the Donghai Bridge from Shanghai to its off-shore port at Yangshan. The main reason why the Shanghai government opted for the latter is as a result of a long term governmental initiative aimed at making Yangshan the chief port on the east coats of china thus improving the access between Ningbo and Shanghai would have put this initiative at jeopardy. Most significantly, the Hangzhou Bay Bridge has improved the competitiveness of the Beilun Port as a result of the easy access between Cixi, a local-level city that is part of Ningbo Municipality, and Haiyan, a county in Jiaxing Municipality.
There are numerous challenges that come along in the course of the construction of such a tremendous project. There were over 600 experts who were involved in designing the bridge and drafting up the plan for the construction and even after over a decade of planning and design, it was quite interesting to see that there were numerous challenges that were encountered in the course of construction of the bridge. The first major challenge was the challenge of offshore construction. As a result of this, several parts of the bridge had to be completed o land and eventually transported to their designated areas. Some of the parts that were constructed in this manner were such as the piers, box girders and even the foundations of the bridge. Another major challenge encountered during the construction was the weather challenge. The bridge is described to have been built "in the world's most complicated sea environment, with one of the three biggest tides on Earth, the effect of typhoons and the difficult content of the sea soil"(Hangzhou Bay Bridge).
Despite all the challenges in the course of its construction the Hangzhou Bay Bridge is currently the world’s 4th longest bridge as well as being the world’s 3rd largest over the water bridge. The most fundamental fact is that the bridge is the world’s longest trans-oceanic bridge at 22.17 miles in length. The construction of the bridge was a major boost to the Chinese transportation industry as well as a major boost for the government’s investments initiatives as well as a major inspiration to the world’s engineering industry. The successful completion of the bridge served as an inspiration factor for the construction of subsequent trans-oceanic bridges such as the Lugu Bridge also known as the Marco Polo Bridge.