It has actually been completed for quite some time now, and several strenuous tests have been done on its structure to prove that it could take a lot of punishment, but as of this weekend of August 20 to 21, China’s purported longest glass-bottomed bridge in the world has officially been opened to visitors, as reported by the Xinhua state news agency.
Spanning the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in Hunan Province, the bridge, which was designed by Haim Dotan of Israel, stands six meters wide and is 430 meters long. It spans two cliffs with a valley that is a breathtaking 300 meters deep below. The bridge’s glass bottom under the visitors’ feet affords a knee-weakening view of the forested terrain, which was used as a location set for filming in James Cameron’s blockbuster sci-fi epic “Avatar”. Fox News reports that the structure cost $3.4 million to build, and construction was already finished as far back as December of 2015.
In the intervening period, Chinese authorities have done their utmost in both pushing the bridge’s structural integrity to its limits and reassuring visitors and tourists that it will hold even when slightly damaged. The National Public Radio detailed how several tests were undertaken on the bridge with full media coverage, such as when people were invited to attack one of the structure’s 99 glass panes with a sledgehammer, among them Dan Simmons of the BCC. Despite cracking the initial layer, volunteers could not damage the other glass panes underneath, all the way through. Then, to reinforce the bridge’s toughness, a pickup truck filled with people drove over the cracked pane without harm.
In recent years, China has been on a glass-bottomed high-altitude path building spree. Not far from the Zhangjiajie Bridge is the 100-meter long Coiling Dragon glass walkway set against the side of Tianmen Mountain, which opened in August; and in Henan province there is a similar structure to be found at Yuntaishan Scenic Park. This surge in popularity is explained by the BBC as that of the incredible photo opportunities such high places can provide. In Chongqing for example, the Longgang National Geographic Park skywalk has become a popular venue for wedding and mass exercise routines such as yoga classes.
Haim Dotan had initially rejected designing the bridge that became his brainchild, but after the Chinese developers who contracted him insisted on the given site, he agreed on the condition that, in his own words, “I want the bridge to disappear;” hence the glass bottom.
The Zhangjiajie Bridge is strictly for foot traffic (barring the aforementioned stress test), and to play things safe, Park officials limit the number of visitors crossing it to only 8,000 a day. In addition, regulations prohibit the use of selfie sticks on the premises, along with the use of stiletto heels on women visitors, in order to protect the glass.
Photo Credit to indianexpress.com