In ancient times, people used to build simple suspension bridges in mountainous regions using rope and wood. But suspension bridges have become far more sophisticated since the 18th century. For the uninitiated, a suspension bridge is the kind of bridge where the load bearing portion hangs below suspension cable. Here we are going to take a look at the top 10 longest suspension bridges in the world.
China has five of the ten longest suspension bridges
The length of a suspension bridge is measured based on the main span (not shore to shore), which is the length of unsupported roadway between the towers of a bridge. The length of the main span correlates to the height of towers and reflects the complexity of the design and construction. Five of the world’s top 10 longest suspension bridges are in China. It shouldn’t come as a surprise given the country’s focus on building world-class infrastructure.
10- Humber Bridge, United Kingdom
The Humber Bridge is located near Kingston Upon Hill in England. This 2.22 kilometers long single-span road suspension bridge opened to traffic in 1981. While its construction was approved in 1959, the construction work didn’t begin until 1979. Its main span is 1,410 meters long, enough to earn it a place among the top 10 longest suspension bridges on the planet. The Humber Bridge has a lifespan of 120 years.
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9- Fourth Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, China
Built over the Yangtze, one of the longest rivers in the world, this suspension bridge has a main span of 1,418 meters. It is located in Jiangsu province of China. Preliminary design work began in 2003 and the bridge opened to traffic in 2012. It is part of China’s Nanjing Bypass Expressway. The suspension bridge connects Hengliang town to Raoyue.
8- Second Dongtinghu Bridge, China
The Second Dongtinghu Bridge opened to traffic in February 2018. Its main span measures 1,480 meters or 4,854 feet, though its total length is 2.39 kilometers. The bridge deck has a width of 33.5 meters. It is built on the juncture of Yangtze River and Dongting Lake in Hunan province of China, and is an important part of the Hangrui National Expressway.
7- Runyang Bridge, China
The Runyang Bridge is also built across the Yangtze River, and is part of the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway. Built at a cost of $700 million, it opened to traffic in 2005. The suspension bridge connects Zhenjiang to Yangzhou in Jiangsu province. Its central span measures 1,490 meters in length, and has a deck width of 39.3 meters. Its towers rise up to 215 meters above water level.
6- Yi Sun-sin Bridge, South Korea
The longest suspension bridge in South Korea connects Gwangyang to Myodo-dong, an island in the Yeosu City. Construction work for the four-lane bridge began in 2007 and it opened to traffic in 2012. While the main span measures 1,545 meters in length, it has two end spans measuring 357.5 meters each. The total length of the Yi Sun-sin Bridge is 2.26 kilometers. It was named after Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a 16th century Korean naval commander.
5- Osman Gazi Bridge, Turkey
The six-lane Osman Gazi Bridge is built across the Gulf of Izmit. It is named after Osman Gazi, the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. It was opened to traffic in July 2016. The bridge has a total length of 2.68 kilometers and width of 35.9 meters. It has three spans in total, with the longest one measuring 1,550 meters. Its length will soon be surpassed by the Çanakkale 1915 Bridge, which is currently under construction in northwestern Turkey.
4- Great Belt Bridge, Denmark
The Great Belt Bridge aka East Bridge in Denmark is the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world. It is built across the Great Belt strait to connect the islands of Funen and Zealand. Its total length is 6.79 kilometers, but the main span is 1,624 meters long. Construction work began in 1986 and it opened for traffic in 1998. The Great Belt Bridge replaced the ferry service, which used to be the primary means of crossing the Great Belt.
3- Xihoumen Bridge, China
The Xihoumen Suspension Bridge opened for traffic in 2009, two years after the construction work was completed. Built over the Xihoumen Waterway, the suspension bridge connects the islands of Jintang and Cezi in China’s Zhoushan Archipelago. Though the total length of the bridge is 5.3 kilometers, its main span measures 1,650 meters. It was built at a cost of $270 million. The bridge has a lifespan of 100 years.
2- Second Humen Bridge, China
The Second Humen Bridge in China’s Guangdong province opened for traffic in April 2019. The 49.7 meters wide bridge connects the core sectors of China’s ambitious Greater Bay Area project. It is the world’s first suspension bridge that spans two waterways. Its main span measures 1,688 meters, though the bridge itself is 12.8 kilometers long. It connects Nansha in Guangzhou with the industrial city of Dongguan. It can handle 100,000 vehicles per day. The Second Humen Bridge was built to ease traffic on the existing Humen Bridge.
1- Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Japan
Since its opening in 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan has held the crown of the world’s longest suspension bridge. Its main span is 1,991 meters long. It is built over the Akashi Strait to connect Kobe with Iwaya. It has a total length of 3.9 kilometers. It handles the movement of more than 23,000 vehicles every day. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is designed to withstand up to 8.5 magnitude earthquakes and 179 miles per hour of wind speeds.