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World's largest cable-stayed bridge opened
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The Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge was formally opened in east China's Jiangsu Province after five years of construction on Monday, June 30, 2008.

The Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge, the world's largest cable-stayed bridge, was formally opened on Monday in east China's Jiangsu Province after five years of construction.

The bridge, linking the two prosperous cities of Nantong and Suzhou, runs 32.4 kilometers, with 8,146 meters spanning the Yangtze, China's longest waterway. It has three lanes each way.

You Qingzhong, provincial director of transportation, said the bridge, serving as a major land link between Jiangsu and Shanghai, was expected to ease navigation problems caused by ferries in the Yangtze estuary and to promote economic growth in the Yangtze River Delta.

The bridge, 108 kilometers upstream from the Yangtze's mouth, joins the national highway network on the both banks.

"The journey between Shanghai and Nantong now only takes one hour, but previously it took almost four hours, including the ferry trip," said You. "With the bridge, it takes just seven minutes to drive across the Yangtze."

The bridge has undergone a month-long trail, which saw a daily flow of 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles, before Monday's formal opening ceremony .

"The bridge's quality and its management both have stood the test and we are confident of its future operation," he said.

Built at a cost of 7.89 billion yuan (1.15 billion US dollars), it is the most complicated bridge project in China's history, setting several technical records.

It has the world's longest span of 1,088 meters, usurping the previous record holder, the Tatara Bridge in Japan, which has a main span of 890 meters.

"The main navigational opening is 62 meters in height and 891 meters wide, which allows the passage of huge vessels with a cargo capacity up to 50,000 tonnes," said Wu Shouchang, chief engineer of the construction headquarters.

It also used the longest bridge cable of 577 meters, 100 meters longer than Tatara's record.

Its steel and concrete towers, the tallest bridge towers in the world, stand at 300.4 meters.

"The bridge is a good demonstration of China's scientific achievements in bridge construction over the past years," said Wu.

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