Shibanpo Bridge Breaks World Record for Longest Box Girder Bridge Span

SEGMENTS, FALL 2006, VOL. 48

T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) has announced the completion of the longest box girder span in the world, the 330m-span Shibanpo Bridge in Chongqing, China (Figs. 12 and 13). Designed by TYLI, the new Shibanpo Bridge complements the original bridge, constructed in 1981, and will dramatically improve traffic flow across the Yangtze River to the central business districts. The new bridge is 19m wide and 1,103.5m in total length. It is positioned 25m apart from and parallel to the old bridge. Due to the close proximity of the two structures, the new bridge main span needed to be larger and all piers had to be aligned with the piers of the old structure to facilitate smooth river traffic. This resulted in the new record-breaking main span of 330m. To commemorate the completion of the bridge, the City of Chongqing celebrated on June 23, 2006 with a 30,000-round firecracker demonstration that lasted a full 30 minutes.

Aesthetic considerations were of high importance in choosing the final design for the new bridge. Arch, cable-stayed, and suspension alternatives were considered, but ultimately, a continuous single box girder design consisting of seven spans was selected for its compatibility with the existing bridge. The entire bridge was built using a cast-in-place concrete free cantilever segmental method, with the exception of a 103m section in the middle of the main span, which is a steel box. The steel box element was incorporated into the design to significantly reduce the bending moment and shear of the structure and make such a long span structure technically and economically efficient. This steel box section was fabricated in Wuchang, a city about 1,000 km downstream of Chongqing on the Yangtze River. The fabricated steel box section was closed on both ends with steel noses, launched as a barge and towed upstream by tug boats. Along its journey, it also went through the locks of the Three Gorge Dam. On May 27, 2006, after it arrived at the site, the steel section was turned 90 degrees using cables anchored at both banks of the river. Then the 1,400-ton, 103m-long box girder was lifted successfully from the Yangtze River to its final place with strand jacks.

In achieving the world record for longest box girder span, the new Shibanpo Bridge surpasses the 301m concrete girder of the Stolmastsunde Bridge in Norway and the 300m steel box girder of the Ponte Costa de Silva in Brazil. The bridge was completed at a total cost of approx. $40 million and is scheduled to be open to traffic before the end of the year.

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