A new bridge spanning a canyon has been built with local people, connecting two sides of a canyon like never before.
Pingtang Bridge, which crosses Caodu River Canyon, a steel-concrete composite beam cable-stayed bridge with two 550m main spans, is shaped to integrates local cultural elements harmoniously, while protecting the local environment.
Local communities embedded in design, build and management
The new bridge has been built with local people at its heart, bringing them into the construction process and radically improving their connection to each other by reducing the time between places either side of the canyon from 50 minutes to two minutes.
For both the construction and operation of the remarkable new bridge, large numbers of local people have been employed to promote sustainable economic development in a region of China targeted for poverty alleviation.
Located in the Hmong Nationality community, minority elements such as Hmong dance and batik, which are seen as a vital part of China’s intangible cultural heritage, have been designed into the bridge towers, creating a unique shape reflective of local dancers in floral-skirts.
In this regard, the bridge serves as a link between cultures, displaying Hmong culture to the world while also meeting the practical need for a crossing of the canyon, and local community environmental concerns have been integral too.
Global industry leaders have given the bridge an Award of Excellence for its impressive impact on the local community and for its environmental success.
The Caodu River, a tributary of Zhujiang River, is home to protected wildlife such as Spotted Longbarbel and Giant Salamander. So the bridge towers were designed to avoid impacting on the river.
Rock excavated from a nearby expressway – approximately 140,000 m3 – was used as manufactured sand to avoid damaging the river and its biodiversity using local natural sand. At the same time, innovated design and equipment was used for the main girder erection to reduce the need for land-use by two hectares.
The difficulties in traversing the canyon had severely restricted connectivity and therefore economic development in the area, which is heavily dependent on agriculture for its economy. The new bridge serves to open up the opportunity for the local population to export agricultural products, which should see agri-incomes rise by an estimated 600%.
The unique landscape in which the bridge sits is also now benefiting from growth in tourism and agritourism, becoming a hotspot attracting nearly 800,000 tourists in the first year, creating further employment opportunities for the local community, along with awareness of their culture.
All of these comes from a project that improves transport sustainability by saving 50 million litres of fuel per year thanks to reduce distances in crossing the canyon.
The Award of Excellence has been given, as part of the 2021 FIDIC Project Awards, to eight global projects on the basis of sustainability and impact, and Pingtang Bridge is a wonderful case study for engaging locally to have a big infrastructure impact.
This project was nominated by Guizhou Transportation Planning Survey & Design Academe Co. China.