Balinghe Bridge

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Balinghe Bridge
坝陵河特大桥
Guanling, Guizhou, China
1,214 feet high / 370 meters high
3,570 foot span / 1,088 meter span
2009


With a height of 1,214 feet (370 mtrs) from deck to water, the Balinghe River bridge is the second highest bridge in China and the 3rd highest road bridge in the world. Located near the town of Guanling about a third of the way along the 300 mile (483 km) Guiyang to Kunming Highway in China’s mountainous Guizhou Province, Balinghe is one of two super high suspension bridges along the 4-lane route.

Of the world’s 300 or so highest bridges, Balinghe is unique for having the 2nd longest span length with a distance between towers of 3,570 feet (1088 mtrs) - nearly as long as the Golden Gate bridge! The gap is so great the bridge appears to be floating among the clouds as it connects two mountain ranges. Balinghe is one of 4 high Chinese suspension bridges with extremely long spans. The other three being the Siduhe, Aizhai and Beipanjiang 2009 highway bridges. Prior to these spans, the longest bridge of any notable height was the New River Gorge bridge in West Virginia with an arch span of 1,700 feet (518 mtrs). In 2012 the world's longest span high level bridge record will go to China's Aizhai Bridge with a span of 3,858 feet (1,176 mtrs).

The design of Balinghe is similar to some of China’s other long span suspension bridges that cross the lower end of the Yangtze but with a few subtle changes. The most notable of these is the sleek, trapezoid-like shape of the tower openings and the lighter, less bulky triangular shaped east anchorage. The saddle covers are also modern looking and somewhat reminiscent of the Tsing Ma bridge in Hong Kong. About the only element of the bridge that might be considered ordinary is the extremely deep 4-story high stiffening truss below the road deck which harks back to the classic, post-Tacoma U.S. suspension bridges of the 1950s like the Mackinac bridge in Michigan.

While a suspension bridge might seem to be a no-brainer for such a long, high crossing, Chinese engineers did design a concrete beam viaduct and several multi-span cable stayed bridges. With a central tower rising nearly 1,500 feet (457 mtrs), any one of the cable stayed schemes would have surpassed France’s Millau bridge as the world’s tallest. With so much concrete required for so many tall piers, there simply was not enough natural sand found at or near the bridge site and man-made sand is not suitable for concrete mixing. If natural sand had been transported from a far city, the cost of the project would have sky rocketed.

Balinghe bridge is located in a hot spot of high Chinese bridges and is less than 100 miles (161 km) from 4 others in the region, including the three great crossings of the Beipanjiang river. The closest of the Beipanjiang bridges is on the same highway as Balinghe about 20 miles (32 km) east and is among the world’s ten highest bridges at 1,080 feet (330 mtrs). Also be sure to visit nearby Huangguoshu waterfalls, one of the largest in China with a drop of 243 feet (74 mtrs). Of all of China’s provinces, Guizhou (pronounced Gooey-Joe) will probably have the greatest number of high bridges as there are still several major and minor highways to be constructed in the next decade.

If you are wondering why Balinghe bridge has the unusual span length of 1088 meters, it relates to the luck the Chinese associate with the number 8 which sounds like the Mandarin word for “prosperity”. It was no coincidence that the Beijing Olympics began at 8:08 pm on the eighth day of the eighth month of 2008. Several other high suspension bridges also have metric span lengths that end with the number 8 including the Beipanjiang 2003 bridge with a span of 388 meters and the Xixi suspension bridge with a span of 338 meters. There is, however, no superstition related to the number 13, so watch out or you may find yourself on the 13th floor of a Chinese hotel!

Click on the excellent YouTube channel "Chinese Bridge" to see a video of the Balinghe Bridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryikg-jjRsY


Balinghe Bridge Elevation


从桥面到谷底水面高度370米高,坝陵河大桥是中国第二高、世界公路桥第三高的悬索桥。紧邻关岭县、位于贵阳至昆明的高速公路1/3路程约300英里(483公里)处,深处中国贵州省的高原山区,坝凌河大桥是这条4车道高速生命线上的两座超级特大悬索桥之一。跻身世界前300左右的最高桥梁之列,坝陵河大桥的唯一之处在于拥有着这些桥梁中最大跨度1088米-几乎是和金门大桥一样长!大桥之下的深壑如此之深而宽阔,以至于大桥就像漂浮在云雾之中一样并且连接着两岸的山峦。坝陵河大桥同时又是中国4座高大的超大跨径悬索桥之一,另三座分别为四渡河大桥、矮寨大桥、北盘江大桥(2009年建成)。 在这些超大跨径桥梁之前,最高的大跨度桥梁是在美国西弗吉尼亚州的新河峡谷拱桥,其高度为518米。

坝陵河大桥的设计和中国其他的跨越长江下游的悬索桥相似,但是也有一些不同之处。最显著的一点设计是,外观线条流畅、梯形龙门架式的主塔造型、以及体型不那么庞大的三角形的东塔侧主缆索锚定。主塔的主缆索鞍座看上去也很现代,有点让人想起香港的青马大桥。至于该桥被认为最平淡无奇的一点就是行驶路面下方的相当深的4层高的加劲桁架,不禁让人回溯想起美国经典的20世纪50年代的老塔克马大桥,类似于密歇根州的麦肯耐克桥。

若对于如此之长、之高的跨越而言悬索桥的方案可能显得有点“没脑子的方案”的话,中国的桥梁工程师们当然也考虑和设计了一座混凝土高架梁桥方案和一个多跨斜拉桥方案。只要有一个中塔高度达到457米左右,任何一座斜拉桥都将会超过法国的米约大桥而成为世界第一高度。对于要建设如此多的高墩所需要的混凝土,当地和附近地区都没能寻找到足够的天然砂石材料,然而加工所得的碎砂石却又不适合混凝土的拌合使用。因此,如果天然砂石都必须从较远距离运输而来,工程成本将像火箭升空一般的剧增。

坝陵河大桥位于中国高大桥梁的热点区域,而且在其附近100英里(161公里)范围内有着另外四座大桥,包括跨越北盘江的三座大通道。距离坝陵河大桥最近的北盘江大桥也同处于同一高速公路上,在坝陵河大桥以西20英里(32公里)处,北盘江大桥也是世界前十高的桥梁之330米高。当然,记住去观赏附近的黄果树瀑布,中国最大的瀑布之74米。在中国所有的省份中,贵州省将可能是建设高桥最多的省份,因为在将来数十年内仍然有很多主要和次要的公路要修建。

如果朋友你在想为什么坝陵河大桥的十分特别的主跨长度1088米,这归因于中国幸运数字8的发音听起来像普通话中的“发”,寓意着生财和好运气的美好期望。但这和北京奥运会在2008年8月8日晚8点8分开幕并不一致。其他一些高的悬索桥也有这样特点的一个跨度——以8结尾,例如北盘江大桥(2003年,关兴公路)主跨388米,西溪大桥主跨338米。但是,在中国却没有对13的迷信,所以,你可能发现自己住进了中国的酒店宾馆的13楼哟


Image by Ryan Pyle.


Image by Chen7224255.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Balinghe construction view in 2008. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The same view in 2011. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com



Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Balinghe Bridge approach viaduct. Image by www.gog.com.cn


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Chen7224255.



Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by John Hart.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


One of two massive red construction cranes that built the truss sections out to the center of the span. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com



Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A family moves some furniture across the long deck. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The Balinghe Bridge visitors center opened in 2017 where you can purchase tickets to go up an elevator and into the truss of the bridge almost 370 meters above the river. Image by Eric Sakowski.


The visitors center in late 2016. Image by Eric Sakowski.


The front of the visitors center in 2015 before they added the small Balinghe Bridge platform. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The elevator entrance building near the base of the east tower. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com



Balinghe cable stayed bridge proposal. It would have been the tallest bridge in the world, exceeding the Millau Viaduct in France. The quad-shaped tower supports are similar to the Rion-Antiron bridge in Greece.


Balinghe bridge cable stayed proposal. The two center spans would have been 400 meters long.


Balinghe Bridge cable stayed proposal at night.


Balinghe cable stayed tower design proposals that were inspired by the classic timber covered "Wind and Rain" bridges of Western China.


Balinghe prestressed beam bridge proposal. It would have been the highest of its type in the world.





Balinghe bridge cable stayed proposal with a single plane of center stays similar to the Millau Viaduct.





Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The east and west towers were nearly half complete in September of 2006. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The same view in 2011. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The same view in 2014. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The first drag line is pulled across the gorge by a small blimp in 2007. Image by www.gog.com.cn





East end tower and anchorage. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The East side of Balinghe Bridge was planned as a tourist attraction with a parking area, shops and access to the bridge. Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A large plaza and entertainment area were planned beneath the East tower including an elevator up to the bridge catwalk.Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A view looking West shows the public catwalks extending beneath the approach spans to reach the main truss. Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The wide, enclosed catwalk is unusual until you realize it had been designed as a public walkway that was part of a larger tourist attraction. Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.



In late 2009 journalists were given a preview tour inside the truss.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Georges.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.


Special wind blades were installed along the inside of the truss to keep the truss and deck from from oscillating up and down.



Image by HPDI Consultants, Inc.



Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


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Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


In 2011 I measured the bridge height at 1,208 feet / 368 meters. The official Chinese height of 370 meters is probably to the bottom of the river. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com



Image by www.yn.xinhuanet.com










Construction progress in March of 2009. The truss was closed in late May.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com




A new stringer is connected to the truss with the help of two temporary stringers.



Official truss closure ceremonies in May of 2009.



Workers rejoice over the truss completion.


Preview celebration in September of 2009.


Balinghe truss access stairs during a media day in mid-October, 2009.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com



The bridge was nearly complete in late November except for a paint job on the main towers.


The official opening day ceremonies on December 23rd, 2009.


The tower was painted just in time for the official opening day ceremonies on December 23rd, 2009.


Image by Chen7224255.










Balinghe River Bridge satellite image taken before construction began with suspension bridge drawn in.


Balinghe River Bridge satellite image showing the town of Guanling in the lower left.


Balinghe and New River Gorge Bridge size comparison


Balinghe and Royal Gorge Bridge size comparison


The 2012 Balinghe Bridge BASE Jump Event!


On July 21st, 2012, China held its first ever bridge BASE jump event from Balinghe Bridge. Thirty jumpers from 15 countries participated in the gathering that was officially titled The 2012 China Anshun Balinghe Bridge Parachuting International Challenge.

Thousands of locals from nearby Anshun and Guanling as well as the Guizhou Provincial capital of Guiyang hiked along the local roads and down into the river gorge to see the jumpers fall almost 370 meters from the 1,088 meter long suspended truss span. The 6 hour event was also seen by millions more via a live CCTV television broadcast as well as numerous Chinese news and website outlets from the Guizhou region.


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Opening celebrations took place on a stage high along the Eastern slope where the old National Road crosses under the bridge. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A news crew covers the event overlooking the deep Balinghe River canyon. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Jiang Changjiang.


Thousands of spectators hiked to the event. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Dozens of food vendors were set up below the East tower. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Locals hiked along trails to claim a good vantage point beyond the main event stage area. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Forget about suntan lotion, the Chinese love using umbrellas to keep out of the sun! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The best place to view the event was at the bottom of the gorge, requiring a long hike along a local dirt farm road. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A perfect landing! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Two jumpers glide south to the landing area. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


To reach the landing area, jumpers, spectators and news crews were ferried across the river on an inflatable raft. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


China's own SWAT team was even present at the event! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


A jumper misses the target...


...but nails the landing anyway! Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Johan Vervoort reaches the halfway point where SUVs then took the jumpers the rest of the way back up to the base of the East bridge tower. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Thousands line the old bridge construction access roads along the West slope. The views from this area were not very good as the landing area was not visible. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


BASE jumpers Tim Mattson and Maurizio di Palma give an interview. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Amanda Vicharelli shares a laugh with Finnish BASE jumper Petri Lehtinen who dislocated his leg. Such injuries are commonplace at BASE jumping events. At West Virginia's annual Bridge Day BASE event at least half a dozen ambulance runs are the norm. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Red Bull athlete John Berry adjusts his GoPro camera during the raft ride. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


After a long hot day, the trail teemed with crowds heading back up to the main road. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Two jumpers float towards the seemingly hidden landing area. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


The Balinghe event was the first of what would be 2 major 2012 BASE events at a Chinese Bridge. On September 16th a similar event was held at the Aizhai Bridge in nearby Hunan Province. Aizhai and Balinghe are the 2 most spectacular and accessible BASE jump bridges in China and probably the world. Image by Eric Sakowski / HighestBridges.com


Click on Page 2 for more then 100 detailed images of the Balinghe Bridge construction!

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