Chinese media raises concerned over safety of world’s longest bridge that links port city of Qingdao in east China to Huangdao.
In the rush to complete the construction before its formal opening on June 30, it is alleged that some important work on the bridge was left incomplete.
Several gaps were found in the crash barriers on the 42.5 kilometer Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, while bolts inserted to fasten the barriers were found to be loose or uncovered, Shanghaidaily.com quoted China Central Television report.
CCTV said that workers were tightening bolts that could easily have been loosened by hand on the bridge, which has seen nearly 18,000 cars cross it every day since it was officially opened on June 30.
A worker told CCTV they didn’t have enough time to install all the safety barriers and to fix the bolts before the bridge’s opening.
Workers had also to finish installing the bridge’s lighting system, which was not in place yet, another man, believed to be in charge of work at the bridge, told CCTV.
“We have just started installing support facilities on the bridge and it will take two to three months to finish the work,” he said.
When the Shandong provincial government announced the opening of the 14.8 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion) bridge, it said the structure, built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons, could take up to 50,000 cars at day, cutting the drive time between the two destinations from 40 to 20 minutes.
But many motorists expressed fears over safety given the high speed of traffic on the bridge and the potential dangers if crash barriers were not fully in place.
The man believed to be charge of the work said safety would not be affected by the loose bolts or the absence of barriers, but wouldn’t say whether a too tight schedule was behind the bridge still being unfinished after its opening.
A total of 450,000 tons of steel was used in the construction – enough for almost 65 Eiffel Towers – and 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete.
Chinese officials said that the bridge would be strong enough to withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake, typhoons or the impact of a 300,000-ton ship.
The bridge has eclipsed the previous world record span, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana, by at least four km. However, it will be eclipsed in 2016 by another Chinese trestle bridge, which will linking Hong Kong with Macau and Guangdong province and will be about 50 km long.