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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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he Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge extends from Turtle Hill in Hanyang to Snake Hill in Wuchang, the two important towns in Wuhan, and it connects the north and south of the Yangtze River and even China. The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge was first projected in 1913, but it was finally begun constructing in September 1955 after total five planning. The main reason why it took so long to start building is that China was under the circumstance of turbulence since it had just been through the War of Liberation at that time. As the first bridge over the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia and the third longest river in the world, it nonetheless took only two years to be completed by using innovative column drilling method. This method is now recognized as one of the great technological revolutions in China. Long ago, the only mean of transportation to travel among the three towns in Wuhan was by water, which was inconvenient and dangerous.  This less-advanced transportation system engendered Wuhan in lacking in terms of economy, cultural exchange and industrial base. Therefore, the primary intention of building the first bridge over Yangtze River was to promote the development of Wuhan. And the government wanted this building to bring confidence and hope to people in China. In summary, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge is characterized as a monument because of its incomparable historical significance, and it is also symbolized a pioneering contribution to the science of China for it using advanced method in the construction---Large-scale column drilling method, a precedent in Chinese bridge history.

The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge contributes a lot in social aspect. Being separated by the Yangtze River and Hanjiang River, Wuhan traffic depends much on bridges and other river transport facilities. In the transportation engineering aspect, the first Yangtze River Bridge allows for the movement of a large flow of people, traffic and information, which can significantly promote the economic and social development at both ends of the cross-river channel. Besides, its completion greatly decreases the traffic jam under the bridge, but ironically it also causes heavy traffic jam on the bridge, especially in the rush hour. Within just the first five years of the bridge being opened to traffic, the transport capacity which passed through the bridge was up to 8,000 tons and the train transport time was shortened by 24 million car hours. The money saved from freight fees was more than the cost of the entire bridge project [The First Yangtze River Bridge: The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge 2014]. With the continuous growth of the national economy, the direct and indirect economic benefits along with the bridge construction are difficult to count, but it is known that there are more than 60 vehicles per minute and one train every six minutes that pass through the bridge [The First Yangtze River Bridge: The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge 2014]. Thus, it’s evident that the Yangtze River Bridge enlarges the transportation in Wuhan.

Nowadays, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge is not only characterized as a vital communication line, but also as a famous scenic spot in Wuhan. It offers a pedestrian trail system with spacious platform and elevators so that visitors can overlook the magnificence of the Yangtze River on the bridge. Also, as a humanized infrastructure, the bridge was built on a site close to commercial-intensive areas in order to attract more tourists, which took public demands into account. Besides, lots of historic places are located around this bridge such as the Yellow Crane Tower, the Baotong Temple, the Shouyi Squre and so on, which can in turn provide a huge flow of visitors to the bridge. Overall, the Yangtze River Bridge stimulates both the economic growth and humanities development in the surrounding area.

The wisdom of science is also applied into constructing this grand cross-river bridge in several aspects. First of all, it is an unprecedented trial for China using the large-scale column drilling method in building a bridge. Instead of using the idiomatic pressured-air caissons, this innovate method can reduce the risk of being attacked by “nitrogen narcosis,” a mental sickness that occurs while working at depths. This sickness, due to the Yangtze’s unpredictable water level, is caused by the increased solubility of gases in body tissues [Ghosh 2010]. Column drilling is a method by first driving the hollow pipes into surface of the riverbed and drilling holes on the rock surface as well. Then one fills the holes with concrete to firmly plug the pipes into the rock and finally builds pier shaft and cushion cap on the top of the pipes [3]. The biggest advantage of this creative method is that it can ensure most construction workers working upon the river avoid the high pressure. Moreover, the pipe can go down the water irregularly so that the problem of the great difference that occurs in the height of rock surface can be solved. The column drilling method greatly increases the construction speed and shortens the time limit of the project to two years.

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