Yangpu Bridge, in the downtown Shanghai area - and sister bridge to Nanpu Bridge, which was completed only two years earlier than Yangpu Bridge, both bridges built to ease the traffic over the Huangpu River in the heart of the city - was finally completed and opened to traffic in October 1993. Yangpu Bridge is understandably a source of immense engineering pride for the Chinese state, it being one of the longest cable-stayed suspension bridges in the world, with its longest span of 602 meters (i.e., as measured between the two supporting pylons/ main abutments). The most heavily trafficked bridge in Shanghai, Yangpu Bridge carries in excess of 5000 vehicles per hour during rush-hour traffic, linking the Pudong district in the east with the Puxi district in the east.*
All modern suspension bridges are made to facilitate expansion and contraction due to daily temperature swings, especially during summer heat, and Yangpu Bridge is no exception: its center section rises by some 10 centimeters and the bridge stretches by about 6 centimeters during the most intense midday heat.
Though the length of the bridge proper (i.e., the part that spans the river itself) is only 1172 meters, the total length of the bridge, including the end abutments that anchor the bridge on land, is 7654 meters. The bridge is more than 30 meters wide and accomodates a 3-lane highway in either direction. Its clearance height - the distance between the river below, at normal water levels, and the underside of the bridge above - is 48 meters. Moreover, the large, roomy span of the bridge proper means that with fewer abutments/ pylons, there is more space for shipping traffic. Yangpu Bridge can thus accomodate the passage of upwards of 45,000 watercraft up and down the Huangpu River daily.
The bridge proper's two main abutments support high, upside-down Y-shaped towers, or pylons, from which are strung supporting cables, a design that is both efficient and extremely elegant, imparting a graciousness to Yangpu Bridge that sets the bridge apart among its peers. Another detail that sets Yangpu Bridge apart is the fact the bridge's name - handwritten by the much-admired former Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping (Deng was admired the world over for his pragmatism, a non-ideological change in vision that led China out of poverty in the wake of the Cultural Revolution - is inlaid on a special plaque on each of the bridge's two pylons.
Yangpu Bridge was not originally painted, but as part of the worldwide Millennium celebrations in the year 2000, it was painted an attractive red. On either side of the bridge is a 2-meter-wide walkway for pedestrians, bridge aficionados, and curious tourists seeking an alternative experience of this remarkably beautiful bridge.
* The river is called the Huang Pu ("Yellow" Pu, "Pu" being an untranslatable name, like "Mississippi" in the US). "Pudong" (Pu dong) means "Pu west" while "Puxi" (Pu xi) means "Pu east", so the Huang Pu separates "Pu" into an eastern and a western part. Yangpu (Yang Pu) Bridge thus connects Pu west with Pu east.
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