'No problem' with glass bridge; area upgrades nearly complete

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Visitors hoping to walk across the world's highest and longest glass-bottom bridge might have to wait for a few more days, as the bridge's management committee is busy upgrading tourist support facilities.

A view of the 430-meter glass-bottom bridge in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, in August. [Shao Ying/For China Daily]

A view of the 430-meter glass-bottom bridge in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, in August. [Shao Ying/For China Daily]

The bridge in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, has been temporarily closed since Sept 2 after it was overwhelmed by crowds of tourists after its test run on Aug 20. The suspension drew questions about the safety of the bridge.

Luo Kewen, spokesman for the bridge's management committee, said on Thursday that there is "no problem" with the bridge. The closure was tied to facilities upgrades to welcome visitors attending an international conference of traveling salespeople and an international tourism festival that will kick off in Zhangjiajie on Monday.

He said the bridge could probably be reopened around Monday as well.

More than 10,000 people have swarmed to the site every day, even though the bridge itself is limited to 8,000 a day.

Luo said the great number of visitors and vehicles made it difficult to complete hardware upgrades, which will add convenience for future visitors.

While the landscaping at the site has been finished, work is continuing on the expansion of a parking lot and some other support facilities. But the upgrade is about to be completed, he said.

Meanwhile, the online booking system for the bridge is also being upgraded. Visitors will be able to book tickets for a specific date.

"After the upgrade, we may limit tickets to 1,000 visitors per hour, so that visitors can arrange their time properly instead of wasting time in long lines," Luo said.

The bridge-430 meters long and 6 meters wide-is paved with 99 panes of triple-layer transparent glass. It is suspended between two steep cliffs 300 meters above the canyon floor in the spectacular Grand Canyon Scenic Area in Zhangjiajie, whose unique pillar-like mountain forms influenced the scenery in the Hollywood blockbuster movie Avatar. The mountains are on UNESCO's world heritage list.

A ticket to walk on the bridge costs 138 yuan ($21). No personal belongings are allowed except for wallets and mobile phones. Visitors are not allowed to wear shoes with high heels, and they must cross the bridge without the aid of the railings.

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