On March 31, 2012. Aizhai suspension bridge, with a main span of 1,176 meters and a maximum height of 330 meters, was open to traffic on Saturday. Spanning over the Dehang canyon, the bridge was built as part of the expressway from southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality to Changsha city in Hunan. Its completion would greatly improve the transportation between the two cities, according to authorities.
On the Morning of March 28 2010, the haulage cable has been successfully pulled from the Chadong Section to the Jishou Section on the opposite side of Dehang Grand Gorge by helium airship, which means the Aizhai Grand Suspension Bridge of the Jicha Highway has entered its main cable construction stage.
On 09:08 am, having flied across the 1,176-meter gorge, the airship reached the other side successfully 17 minutes later and made a connection between the two sides by a high-strength nylon rope with a diameter of millimeters.
According to the project director, the Aizhai Grand Suspension Bridge is a key project in the whole Jicha Highway program. With a main span of 1,176 meters and a subgrade width of 24.5 meters, this steel truss suspension bridge has the largest span in gorge throughout our country. The bridge is to be build in accordance with the highway standard of two lanes & four driveways, whose designed speed is 80 kilometers per hour As the bridge is located 335 meters over the Aizhai Town and the traffic below the bridge is heavy, it is proved that pulling the haulage cable by an airship would be the most convenient and safest way to start the project.
When it opens in 2012, Aizhai will be the world’s highest tunnel to tunnel bridge and the fourth suspension bridge in China to cross a valley so wide it seems to be connecting two mountain ranges. The first three were the Siduhe, Balinghe and Beipanjiang 2009 bridges. Of the world’s 400 or so highest bridges, none will have a main span as long as Aizhai with a tower to tower distance of 3,858 feet (1,176 mtrs). Located deep in the heart of China’s Hunan Province near the city of Jishou, the suspension bridge is the largest structure on the Jishou to Chadong expressway with a deck 1,083 feet (330 mtrs) above the DeHang Canyon.
The two tunnels on either side of the Aizhai bridge allowed the engineers to use the mountain top for the location of one of the towers, reducing its height to just 165 feet (50 mtrs) – unusually short for a bridge with a span nearly as long as the Golden Gate bridge at 3,858 feet (1176 mtrs). In addition to cost savings, the stubby support also allows the bridge to blend more naturally into its surroundings. The taller bridge tower is no less unique with side span cables that soar down the backside of a mountain, making first time visitors quizzical as to what exactly lies ahead. With most of the structure hidden from view, the bridge will come as a jaw-dropping surprise whether you enter the canyon from either tunnel. Due to a gap of approximately 328 feet (100 mtrs) between the last truss suspenders and the tops of the bridge towers, the engineers added some additional ground anchored suspenders to stabilize the two massive suspension cables and reduce any oscillations that could damage other components of the bridge. An overlook and visitors center will offer additional views of the broad valley.