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6. Beipanjiang Railway Bridge|
Opened in 2001, the 275 m high Beipanjiang River railway bridge became the highest arch bridge on earth. In 2009, the Beipanjiang river railway bridge lost its highest arch title to another Chinese span, the 294 m high Zhijinghe road bridge.
Located just west of the city of Liupanshui near the north end of Guizhou province on the Shuibai Railway, the Beipanjiang railway bridge crosses an exceptionally deep gorge with vertical cliffs rising several hundred meters from either side of the Beipan river.
Construction of the bridge was built using a method developed by Chinese engineers that had never been used before on a bridge so large. Instead of building two temporary towers to support a “high line” to assist in building the two sides of the arch outward until they met in the middle, the two halves of the bridge were built separately on falsework constructed just above ground on the hillsides at the edge of the canyon. Once completed, each side was then rotated horizontally outward over the river in one delicate maneuver and then connected at the crown. The central bearing located on top of each of the foundations consisted of a pair of closely fitted 3.5 m diameter concave spherical sections with a radius of 8 m. On top of the lower bearing, between the two sections, 610 pieces of 60mm x 18mm teflon flakes were used to keep friction to a minimum. A massive water tank was installed on the back of the counter weighting pier to assist in finding an accurate center of gravity as well as preventing the system from overturning. Once the two halves of the arch were closed at the crown, the rotatable foundations were entombed in tons of concrete. This unique method of rotating the arch halves during construction has been used on other large arch bridges in China including those that are built on flat terrain just above the level of the river.
Also unique to the Beipanjiang span are the two steel arch ribs. Initially hollow during construction, concrete was pumped inside of them from the foundations upward to the crown. First used by China in 1990, they have refined and improved the technique and now use it on the majority of their steel arch bridges. Depending on the length of the span and the width of the bridge, different styles of tubing are used. For the Beipanjiang, a mix of a horizontal dumbbell and single tubes was adopted. Other configurations have single tubes further apart, double dumbbells or a tight cluster of tubes known as “multiple contiguous”. Once hardened, the concrete solidifies and stiffens the arch, improving the overall strength of the entire structure.
1. Beipanjiang River Railway Bridge 275m high
2. Beipanjiang River Railway Bridge Elevation - Drawing