I'm beginning to think that China's motto for the new century is: bigger, longer, better. Not satisfied with world's fastest supercomputer or the largest Transformer made out of scrap metal, the nation has just inaugurated the world's longest sea bridge. The Qingdao Trans-Oceanic Bridge in the Shandong province is 26.4 miles long (>40km) and spans the Jiaozhou Bay, connecting the city of Qingdao to its growing suburbs. It will shave 20 miles off the travel of an expected 300,000 commuters a day. Begun in June of 2005, and finished on December 22 of 2010, Qingdao Trans-Oceanic Bridge cost around $9 billion US to complete. Is the time saved in the commute worth that kind of money? Doesn't really matter. This is just another example of how China is heavily investing in its infrastructure to make way for its continued exponential economic growth. You can get an up close look at the bridge in the video below.
China has been pursuing these massive construction projects for years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. There's an even bigger bridge under construction right now. Yet this development isn't sheer bravado. I don't think they're pursuing these projects simply for the international records. The explosive growth in manufacturing, alongside a rising middle class that commutes to work, has lead China to develop real issues with its infrastructure. They had a traffic jam that lasted for 10 frikkin' days! Projects like the Qingdao Bridge may be undertaken with pride, but they're simply another sign that China is preparing for a future in which their industry and urban numbers continue to rise. In another 20 or 30 years the country could have more than a hundred cities with million plus populations. Make no doubt about it, China is planning ahead. China is getting itself ready for the 21st century, and it will be a major player in everything it can. Bridges are just one of the first steps. Wait until you see where they are going.