The Yangtze River is the third longest in the world, and it's served as a critical artery in the beating heart of China's economic boom. It's also incredibly wide at points—which has forced China to become a top contender in the race to build the most advanced long-span bridges in the world. Taizhou Bridge is definitely one of those bridges.
The Taizhou won the 2013 Structural Awards this week, beating out dozens of other remarkable pieces of engineering. It's not the country's longest suspension bridge—that would be Xihoumen Bridge—but it is the longest of its unique, experimental type. It's the first-ever suspension bridge to link two long spans, each over a kilometer in length, using three 650-foot-tall towers. All in all this $400 million behemoth crosses over 9,650 feet of the massive (and deep, at 90 feet) Yangtze River.
The factories and farms along the Yangtze generate almost a third of China's GDP, so it's no wonder that it's served as the catalyst in China's incredible infrastructural drive. This looping, 3,900-mile long artery is host to the largest hydro-electric power station in the world, the Three Gorges Dam, as well as at least three of the world's ten longest bridges.
At the same time, the Yangtze has become a focal point in China's ecological crisis. This is the same body of water where 16,000 dead pigs were found in earlier this fall. It's also been periodically dyed blood-red by toxins. As a result, the Chinese government is attempting to right decades of wrong—a decade-old program that reconnects lakes to the river is seeing some progress. That doesn't mean it's swimmable—but it's a start. [Structural Awards]