Beipanjiang Bridge Duge

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Image by Eric Sakowski /
Image by Eric Sakowski /

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Beipanjiang Bridge Duge
Dugexiang, Guizhou, China
1,850 feet high / 564 meters high
2,362 foot span / 720 meter span
World's Highest Bridge 2016


Toppling all previous spans for height, the new Beipanjiang Bridge Duge will open in 2016 as the first bridge crossing to ever surpass the 500 meter height barrier as well as becoming the first cable stayed bridge to ever hold the title of The World’s Highest Bridge.

No other region on earth has as many high bridges as China’s remote Western Province of Guizhou and there is no waterway within its borders with a greater collection of super high bridge spans than the mighty Beipan River. Translated as the North Winding River, the BeipanJiang flows on a North-South rift that divides the Western and Eastern halves of Guizhou. The vertical limestone cliffs drop so deep that much of the river is in shadow during the day. Spaced every 50 kilometers along its length are a collection of epic road and railway bridges that have pushed the boundaries of China’s bridge engineering community.

Due to be completed in 2016, the G56 expressway is the last of Guizhou’s great East-West routes that will allow easy access into nearby Yunnan Province across terrain that was previously inaccessible to normal cars and trucks. The entire 4-lane divided highway stretches an incredible 2,935 kilometers from the city of Hanghzou near Shanghai to the border of Burma near Tibet. The extreme geography along the G56 has produced not only the world’s highest bridge over the Beipanjiang River near Duge, Guizhou but also the world’s highest suspension bridge several kilometers further west near Puli, Yunnan.

All of this high bridge insanity began in 2001 when the mighty beast of the Beipan River summoned the construction of the world’s highest railway crossing some 275 meters above a boulder-strewn crevasse. Two years later that triumph was followed by the river’s first road bridge record when the Beipanjiang Bridge Huajiang opened in 2003 surpassing the 300 meter height threshold as well as becoming the first suspension bridge in the world to surpass the height of Colorado’s Royal Gorge bridge after a 74-year reign.

This was followed by a succession of bridges both high and super-high including the Beipanjiang Bridge Hukun on the G60 expressway, the Beipanjiang Bridge on the Shuipan expressway with the world’s longest span high-level beam bridge, the Beipanjiang Bridge Wang’an expressway and the Beipanjiang Bridge Zhenfeng.

But in 2016 the Beipan will deliver its two biggest high bridge gifts ever in the form of the Beipanjiang Railway Bridge Qinglong - the world’s highest “High-Speed” railway bridge at 295 meters and the colossal Beipanjiang Bridge Duge at 564 meters in height. Other engineering honors Duge can claim include having the second longest steel trussed cable stayed span and the tenth tallest bridge tower in the world at 269 meters.

Although it is only slightly smaller in size then Great Britain or the U.S. state of Washington, until 2000 the experience of traveling around Guizhou was a grueling and arduous one that often took days along a dangerous network of older, 2-lane national roads. This difficulty limited the kind of growth that had been underway in the Eastern Provinces where accessibility had been improving steadily and rapidly since the early 1990s.

The first hint of Guizhou’s high bridge aspirations came in 2001 when the Liuguanghe beam bridge opened as the world’s highest bridge on a 2-lane expressway between the capital city of Guiyang and the smaller county of Bijie in the Northwest. In the 15 years that followed, expressway construction went into full gear with four and now six-lane expressways connecting cities both large and small regardless of how difficult the mountain terrain may be. An old saying states that in Guizhou there is no three days without rain, no three acres without a mountain and no three coins in any pocket. They may have to amend that and add that there is no three kilometers of expressway without a high bridge!

Today the Province of Guizhou is home to more high bridges then every other country on earth combined. By 2020 Guizhou will have more then 250 bridges over 100 meters high as measured from the road or rail deck to the water. Compare that with Italy which has the world’s second greatest number of high bridges with only 40 spans exceeding 100 meters in height. Of the world’s 20 super-high spans that exceed 300 meters from deck to water, all are in China except for 3.


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Beipanjiang Bridge Duge Elevation


Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /


Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Beipanjiang Bridge Duge and North American High and Tall Bridge Comparison


Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /


Drawing by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Drawing by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /


Beipanjiang Bridge Duge and Baluarte Bridge Comparison

The Beipanjiang Bridge at Duge will be nearly 175 meters higher then Mexico's Baluarte Bridge, the previous record holder for world's highest cable stayed bridge.


The Beipanjiang Bridge was officially announced in December of 2010 but construction would not begin until the fall of 2012.



The first drawing of the bridge was released in 2010 with an earlier design showing a continuous taper of the lower tower.


In 2011 a final inaugural celebration took place.


The 2011 Beipanjiang Duge Bridge render with the redesigned lower tower.

A hike to the top of this 300 meter high mountain at the confluence of the Beipan and Gexiang Rivers affords the best views of the new bridge. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Guizhou tower foundation construction in early 2013.


A view of the main headquarters and worker housing on the Guizhou side. Image by Eric Sakowski /

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A view looking north up the Beipan River shows another tight gorge where a 500+ meter high crossing could have been constructed. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Gexiang River can be seen flowing under the crane towards its confluence with the Beian River. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Two small footbridges across the Beipan and Gexiang Rivers. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Guizhou towers reach a height of 170 meters. Another 100 meters to go! Image by Eric Sakowski /


Large steel tubes make up the temporary support Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


A view across the canyon towards the Yunnan side. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Progress on the Yunnan towers has fallen behind the Guizhou tower. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


An aerial of the eastern approach showing the G56 expressway heading towards Liupanshui City, the second largest in Guizhou Province. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


The eastern approach in 2013 before the piers were constructed. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


A giant cave below the Yunnan tower slope. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Gexiang River footbridge in the foreground and the dilapidated Beipan footbridge in the background. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Yunnan tower in mid-2013. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The short main street in the center of Duge town. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Looking south towards the town of Duge. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Probably constructed in the early 1990s, the truss-arch across the Beipan was bypassed by a beam bridge and is only open to pedestrians. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Expressway cuts are visible from Duge town more then 500 meters up on the Guizhou slope. Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /

Image by Eric Sakowski /




Beipanjiang Bridge Duge location map also showing the location of the world's highest suspension bridge over Puli creek.

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