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Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

With this name to the blog, I can’t not post about the world’s longest sea bridge which (as the Daily Mail puts it so helpfully for us British/French readers) ‘is five miles LONGER than the Dover-Calais crossing’.

The previous record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. See it in the distance.

As ever, the Mail has the best pictures, on it’s staggeringly successful website. This is from Oliver Pickup’s article.

China has unveiled the world’s longest sea bridge, which stretches a massive 26.4 miles – five miles further than the distance between Dover and Calais and longer than a marathon.

The Qingdao Haiwan Bridge, completed earlier this week, links the main urban area of Qingdao city, East China’s Shandong province, with Huangdao district, straddling the Jiaozhou Bay sea areas.

The road bridge, which took four years and cost a cool £5.5billion to build, will be open for use in the New Year and 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 (38.42km) long.

The three-way Qingdao Haiwan Bridge is a staggering 174 times longer than London’s Tower Bridge, over the Thames River – and shaves 19 miles off the drive from Qingdao to Huangdao.

Two separate groups of workers have been building the different ends of the structure since 2006.

And they were relieved when all the bridges connected properly, which they managed to do on December 22.

One engineer commented: ‘The computer models and calculations are all very well but you can’t really relax until the two sides are bolted together.

‘Even a few centimetres out would have been a disaster.’

WORLD’S LONGEST

– Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge (rail) – China  – 102 miles
– Tianjin Grand Bridge (rail) – China – 71 miles
– Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge (rail) – China  – 50 miles
– Bang Na Expressway (road) – Thailand – 34 miles

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It’s good to know that David Cameron has been reading my blog. Or at least that he has come to appreciate the cultural significance of the British pier since I last blogged about this in March. When he chose to give his vision of a Big Society another push earlier this week, he sent Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, down to Hastings to see how the locals are trying to save their pier.

Hastings pier

You can see ten minutes of Newsnight documentary about Hurd’s seaside visit here; and there are some nice reflections from Max Davidson here on the strange pull of the pier on the British imagination, occasioned by the opening of Weston-super-Mare’s new £51m Grand Pier.

For they were, in their heyday, romantic places. The ingenuity of Victorian engineers, building out into the sea, when it would have been far simpler and cheaper to build the same structures on shore, stirred the imagination. There was a kind of poetry in the conjunction of the lapping waves and those jaunty pavilions, shimmering in the sun. They were places of adventure, glamour, innocent merriment. No Mediterranean beach could match the splendour of an English pier in its pomp.

When I was a child in the 1960s, an outing to Margate Pier was an event of knee-trembling excitement. I laughed myself silly at the Punch and Judy shows. I guzzled huge sticks of rock. I thought the ghost train was the single scariest thing that had ever happened to me. It didn’t matter that paint was peeling off the skeletons, that the spiders were made of shoe-laces or that the driver of the train looked like Albert Steptoe. I let my imagination roam.

Most of all, I loved those old coin-slide machines where if you rolled a penny at the right moment, you could get ten, 15, 20 pennies back, as a gleaming pile of coins toppled over the precipice. It was my first introduction to the thrills and spills of gambling.

Like pantomimes, with which they have much in common, piers bewilder foreigners. “This is your idea of fun?” asks the bemused German or Frenchman, as giggling English families pile on to 5mph trains, puttering along to the end of the pier past speak-your-weight machines and candyfloss stalls. But they retain a nagging hold on our imagination, for that very reason. They are not sophisticated. They are the reverse of sophisticated. But they connect us to childhoods past, when the world was simpler.

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