|A Suspension Bridge that Spans a Vision
of the 21st Century
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge that links the City of Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture with Awaji-shima Island. Construction began in 1988 and is due to be completed in the spring of 1998. With a total length of 3,910 meters (12,828 feet), the two main towers suspend two thick cables to create the world's longest suspension bridge with the span of 1,990 meters (6,529 feet) when completed. The bridge will be the northernmost link in a 89.6-kilometer (293,960 feet) stretch running between Kobe and Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture, the most easterly of three routes that link the main island of Honshu with Shikoku over the narrow straits of the Seto Inland Sea. In 1985 the Onaruto Bridge between Naruto City and Awaji Island was completed, and the 45 kilometers (147,636 feet) of the south-side roadway is already open to traffic.
The Akashi Strait Bridge was a challenge for engineers. To withstand the fast swirling tidal currents in the narrow strait the foundations that support the main towers had to be securely laid with high precision on the seabed 60 meters (197 feet) underwater. To do this, a gigantic 80-meter (263-foot) diameter, 70-meter (230-foot) high steel cylinder was sunk to the bottom of the sea. Concrete was then poured into this massive structure to form the base of the main towers. Furthermore, the superstructure was designed and tested in a large-scale wind tunnel to ensure that it will withstand wind speed of up to 80 meters per second (180 m.p.h.), and to withstand massive earthquakes of magnitude 8.5.
In September 1996 the construction of the bridge girders was completed and all parts of the bridged were linked; work on the bridge has now entered the final stage. After the few final touches been done on the bridge, the entire length of the Kobe-Naruto route will be open to traffic. The bridge connects to major national highways in Shikoku in Naruto City and to the Sanyo Expressway in Kobe City extending to Osaka and Kyushu. A much improved high-speed transportation network linking Honshu and Shikoku will thus soon be completed.
Photo: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge (Hyogo Prefecture).
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