A day short of two weeks after opening to the general public, China’s highly celebrated glass- bottomed bridge has been closed. No, it’s not because of dangerous structural damage, thankfully.
Rather, it was closed because the facilities in the park where the bridge is located have been completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of visitors and tourists to the site. Apparently, a time out was in order.
Opening in August 20 at Hunan Province, the magnificent bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, spans the majestic Zhangjiajie Canyon with a span of 430 meters (1,400 feet) and a height of 300 meters above ground. A mere glance through the bridge’s floor thick triple-layered panes of glass down to the valley below – parts of which inspired the visuals from James Cameron’s 2009 film “Avatar” – would easily leave most people weak at the knees and needing to go to the bathroom. But that’s precisely what a lot of people going to Zhangjiajie want to experience in the first place.
That’s pretty much the root cause of the bridge’s closure after 13 days. The Telegraph reports that the park was simply swamped by the massive visitor volume. They can optimally accommodate 8,000 guests in a day, with sightseers being allowed on the bridge in batches of 800 people at the time. But a park spokesman says that the actual turnout a day is 10 times greater than the optimum.
But he was quick to clarify that the number of guests did not damage the bridge, nor did any accidents take place while it was open.
The Zhangjiajie bridge management posted a statement on Chinese social media network Weibo, saying that the closure of the bridge was only a “temporary suspension of operations”, in order to perform “improvements and updates” to the attraction and its attached facilities. These include the enlargement of parking lots and expansion of the ticket booking system and customer service.
Unfortunately no fixed date was given on when the bridge might fully reopen, although management hinted that organized tour groups arriving during the weekend might be allowed to cross the bridge at a “discretionary basis”.
Needless to say the closure and the vague announcement left plenty of tourists extremely annoyed; some of them have booked travel to the destination from far off. Comments on Weibo ranged from the incredulous “Are you kidding me?” to the accusatory “You have cheated customers.”
“I’m on the train right now,” gripes one frustrated would-be sightseer. “I can’t change my travel plans or get a refund. You have made the world lose hope. I see you are the world’s number one cheat.”
The glass bridge over Zhangjiajie made great efforts to demonstrate the sturdiness of its structure and glass bottom before its grand opening, having guests attack the glass with mallets then driving a car full of people over it. The bridge is nominally for foot traffic only.
Photo Credit to www.notey.com
Photo Credit to www.notey.com