The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge: Akashi Kaikyo

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is a suspension bridge completed in 1998 located in Honshu, Japan that connects the two sides of the Akashi Strait. It is also known as the Pearl Bridge and is formed by three spans in total with the central one being the longest. Remarkably the bridge held three separate world records for suspension bridges, at 3,911 meters it the world’s longest, with an elevation of 297 meters it was the highest and at a cost of 500 billion Yen is the world’s most expensive bridge.

The Akashi-Kaikyo suspension bridge has three bays. The central section, between the main towers is 1,991 m and the other two 960 m each. The height of the main towers is 282.8 m above the water, 297.30 m until the end of the anchors, the structure is submerged 60m below the water level. Originally the central span was designed to measure 1990 m, but the Great Hanshin Earthquake, the January 17, 1995, moved the 1m towers, so far the only thing that was up. The new distance is incorporated into the design. At its core the bridge offers a height of 97m from the water level to the bottom of the board and a light of 65.75m for the passage of vessels.

The massive scale of the bridge can also be understood by looking at the huge amounts of material it took to construct it, about 180,000 tonnes of steel and 1.4 million cubic feet of concrete were required along with almost 300,000 kilometers of cabling. All this makes it capable of, theoretically, withstanding an earthquake of upto 8.5 magnitude on the Richter scale and winds of upto 180 miles per hour. This is understandable considering the Akashi Strait is located on a very seismically unstable part of the world.

View from the top of a support tower

The bridge is currently used by an estimated 25,000 cars per day, although it was originally planned to include a railway line as well however that was later removed from the plans to make it easier to execute. Before the bridge opened, these cars were transported by ferry across the strait which was extremely dangerous due to the high winds present in the area and also the massive amounts of maritime traffic that use this waterway. All of these factors combined have made this into something of a tourist attraction as well.

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