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World's longest suspension bridge, in Hyogo | by aurelio.asiain
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World's longest suspension bridge, in Hyogo

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This photo belongs to The Asiain Gallery.


World's Longest Suspension Bridge Opens in Japan


by James D. Cooper


On April 5, 1998, 10 years after construction began, the ribbon was cut to open the world's longest suspension bridge, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan. Following a parade of the 1,500 invited guests (including this author) across the bridge, the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan officiated the formal ceremony.


Map showing the three bridges connecting Honshu and Shikoku islands. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, also known in Japan as the Pearl Bridge, has a record main span of 1,991 meters. By comparison, the bridge is 366 meters (almost ¼ mile) longer than the previous record holder, the StoreBaelt (East Bridge) in Denmark, which was also opened in 1998. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is also 580 meters longer than the Humber Bridge in England, constructed in 1981; 692 meters longer than the longest suspension bridge in the United States, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, built in 1964; and 710 meters longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, constructed in 1937.


It cost an estimated 500 billion Japanese yen (U.S. $3.6 billion) to build the bridge. Construction began in 1988 and involved more than 100 contractors.



The Akashi Kaikyo suspension bridge forms one link in the Kobe-Naruto highway route, which connects the main island of Honshu and the southern island of Shikoku. This route is the eastern-most route of three north-south traffic routes approved in the 1969 comprehensive Japan national development plan to stimulate local commerce and to facilitate the industrial development of the region. A central route, which connects Kurasiki on Honshu Island with Sakaide on Shikoku Island, was completed in 1988. A third route further to the west, the Onomichi-Imabari Route, will connect the Hiroshima greater metropolitan area with the Matsuyama area when completed in 1999.


The 81-kilometer-long Kobe-Naruto Route is marked by the construction of two major suspension bridges, including the world's longest — the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. This bridge with a total length of four kilometers crosses the Akashi Straits, connecting the Kobe area of Honshu with Awaji Island, the sixth largest island in Japan. About 1,400 ships per day traverse the 1,500-meter-wide main shipping lane through the Akashi Straits into the inland sea. A second major bridge on this route, the Ohnaruto suspension bridge, was completed in 1995 and connects Shikoku Island with the southern end of Awaji Island. This link of modern highways, interchanges, and bridges will greatly expand the economy of Awaji Island.

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Taken on June 26, 2005