Works pending on sea bridge opened to cars

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2011, 12:00am


China opened the world's longest cross-sea bridge to great fanfare last week ahead of the Communist Party's 90th anniversary, but the fact is, the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge isn't quite ready for the traffic it is now seeing.

The 42-kilometre bridge, which now links the booming northern port city of Qingdao in Shandong to an airport on the island of Huangdao, is still a work in progress.

Workers are still tightening up screws in its support facilities and have yet to install lights, according to an official from the project's contractor, the Shandong Hi-speed Group.

Cai Jianjun, head of the project's Huangdao work station, told the South China Morning Post that 'there are still a few openings in the bridge's fences'.

State media broadcast images of unscrewed and half-screwed fences, as well as a few gaps along the bridge, on Monday. Construction of such safety facilities would take at least two months, China Central Television quoted a project engineer as saying.

Cai said 99.5 per cent of the work had been done when the bridge opened last Thursday. He denied its incomplete state posed safety risks.

'Even if there were no openings, vehicles could still drop into the sea if a strong collision occurred,' he said.

He said expressways on land did not have lights, and so it should not be surprising the bridge opened without lighting equipment, but noted that such lights were in the works.

During a state-organised visit in April, the Post and other media were told lighting was important as fog was common in Qingdao. Without fences, the officials said, strong winds could blow a person into the sea.

Shao Xinpeng, chief engineer for the contractor, told the Post that the delay in the lights was due to problems that arose when designers opted to put lights on fences instead of on traditional tall poles in order to light up the bridge better in fog. 'Instalment is expected to be finished by the end of August,' he said. 'More than 60,000 lights will be needed.'

He said workers were hurrying to mend the holes in the fences and tighten the screws by tomorrow.

Asked why they did not wait to open the bridge after such issues were fixed, Cai said: 'We're all party members. We have to do what the party requires. We worked day and night before the opening day.'

Along with the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, the bridge was proudly put into operation on the eve of the party's 90th anniversary.

Xinhua quoted officials last night as saying the project passed safety checks by the authorities on June 27 despite some outstanding work.

An online user in Qingdao has posted photos of open fences and half-finished fastenings on Sina Weibo, a microblog site. 'Many screws didn't have caps and could be pulled out by hand. Many people stopped their cars to take photos. Some took screws away as souvenirs!' the person wrote of his drive on the bridge.

Construction began in May 2007. The section to Huangdao that has opened is part of the first phase.