Beipanjiang Bridge Duge

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Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /
Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /
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Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /
Image by Jon Fether, Jesus Catalan and Eric Sakowski /

Revision as of 03:54, 2 January 2015

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


Toppling all previous spans for height, the new Beipanjiang Bridge Duge will open in 2016 as the first 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 Bridge some 275 meters above a boulder-strewn crevasse on the Shuibai Railway. 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.

Until the year 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. Despite a land mass slightly smaller then Great Britain or the U.S. state of Washington this outdated infrastructure 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 corner of the Province. 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 are 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 are 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 scaffolding on the Guizhou tower. 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 /


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, this truss-arch across the Beipan was bypassed by a beam bridge and is only open to pedestrians. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


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


Guizhou tower foundation work in mid-2013. Image by Eric Sakowski /


A rare view of the Beipan during a drought in 2013 exposes rocks and sandbars that are usually hidden from view. Image by Eric Sakowski /

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To celebrate the completion of the World’s Highest Bridge in 2016, famous Chinese bungee jumper Duanshujun of Kunming and creator Eric Sakowski will attempt the highest bungee jump ever taken from a bridge.

Working with the Liupanshui City and the Shuicheng County Sports and Tourism officials as well as the Guizhou Highway Department, this World Record will be the first fixed object bungy fall to topple not only the 400 meter barrier but the first to shatter the 500 meter height threshold.

Duanshujun was recently featured in an hour long CCTV4 special that was broadcast all over China in late 2014 and covered his career of both bungee and bridge swinging including his latest conquest, a 100 meter swing from the Nanpanjiang Bridge Yiliang with his assistant.

His most notable bungee jump took place in 2012 when he made an unofficial world record fixed object bungy jump of at least 300 meters from the Balinghe Bridge in Guizhou Province. His small crew rigged the bungee cord in the early hours of the morning under the cover of night. Although the jump was never officially measured, Duanshun was likely the first person to ever drop more then 300 meters from a fixed object using an 85 meter long bungee cord.

In 2016 we are hoping to almost double the Balinghe Bridge Bungy with a drop from the Beipanjiang Bridge that may reach 550 meters. Follow us here with the latest news and updates as we get closer to our attempt to take the biggest plunge in bungee history!


Duanshujun eyes his greatest challenge, the 564 meter drop from the deck of the Beipanjiang Bridge! Image by Eric Sakowski /


We were grateful to get a special hardhat tour of the Beipanjiang Bridge site by Mr. Wang who is the head supervisor overseeing the entire construction of the bridge. Image from Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


A promotional image we are working on for the jump. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The bottom of the real canyon where we will attempt several drops of over 500 meters! Image by Eric Sakowski /

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Another promotional idea. Despite my planning to lose more then 40 pounds for the jump, we are going to make 2 separate cords, one for lighter and one for heavier jumpers. We also hope to do the World's Highest Swing Jump. Drawing by Martin Archer.


We really appreciated everyone from the Liupanshui City Tourism and Sports Authority who showed up to meet with us and discuss our plans to hold this World Record Bungee Event. Image by Duanshujun's assistant.


Image by Duanshujun's assistant.


Our group enjoyed a wonderful dinner that was hosted by the gracious Mrs. Tang who was previously the leader of the Liupanshui City Tourism Department. Image from Eric Sakowski /


Our group ate in a special restaurant where regional hot pot dishes unique to Liupanshui are served to guests with aprons that protect you from popping hot grease. Image from Eric Sakowski /

Duanshujun's 2012 Balinghe Bridge Bungee Jump


Duanshujun and his crew quickly rigged up the Balinghe Bridge jump in the early hours of the morning. Image from Duanshujun.


A last minute check of the cord just after dawn. Image from Duanshujun.


Duanshujun takes the leap! Image from Duanshujun.


Duanshujun was lowered down to the bottom by rope. Image from Duanshujun.


A 300 meter jump and an unofficial new World Record for Highest Fixed Object Bungee Jump. In 2016 we hope to make it an official Guinness World Record. Image from Duanshujun.

Duanshujun's 2012 Maguohe Bridge Swing

Duanshujun received sponsorship from a local Ford dealership in 2012 to do a swing from the deck of the 180 meter high Maguohe Bridge north of Kunming City.


Maguohe Bridge.


Image from Duanshujun.


Image from Duanshujun.


In 2014 Duanshujun recalls his 2012 swing jump during a visit to the bridge with interpreter Jorson and myself. Image by Duanshujun's assistant.

Duanshujun's 2014 Nanpanjiang Bridge Swing


In 2014 Duanshujun began plans to break his previous swing jump record by falling more then 100 meters on a cord from the deck of the Nanpanjiang Bridge Yiliang. In August of 2014 I joined Duanshujun on a preliminary inspection of the Nanpanjiang bridge. After several more months of planning Duanshujun finally made the biggest swing jump in Chinese history in October, 2014 with his assistant. The jump became the subject of an hour long CCTV4 special that was broadcast on November 27,2014. We hope to do a swing twice as large from the Beipanjiang Bridge Duge. Image by Duanshujun's assistant.


Image from Duanshujun.


Image from Duanshujun.


Image from Duanshujun.


Image from Duanshujun.



Map of the Beipanjiang Bridge Duge water pipeline trail.

To really appreciate the awesome scale and beauty of the Beipanjiang Bridge Duge and its surroundings, there is a short 2 kilometer trail along the west side of the river that leads to some spectacular vantage points at the bottom of the gorge over 500 meters below the bridge deck. This narrow but level trail is used by a few of the farmers who live near the confluence of the Beipan and Gexiang Rivers. Two small suspension footbridges cross both rivers.

To reach the water pipeline trailhead you will need to drive south on local road S212 for 30 minutes from Liupanshui City to the small town of Dugexiang. After crossing the Beipan River on a small beam bridge continue north on S212 a few hundred meters and turn right into the water power building entrance and park.


Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Beipanjiang water level was at 919 meters near Duge city in August of 2013. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Another power station on the east side of the river. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Giant house-sized boulders can be seen during unusually low water levels in 2013. Image by Eric Sakowski /


During heavy rains these swimmers would be swept away. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Gexiang River footbridge greets visitors after 2 kilometers of hiking. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


A view of the Beipanjiang with the Gexiang River at the bottom. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The Gexiang River in August of 2013. Image by Eric Sakowski /


The now unused Beipanjiang footbridge. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


A view looking up the Beipan River where the bridge deck will cross over 500 meters above the water. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Image by Eric Sakowski /


South of Duge the Beipan continues to flow under at least 6 more bridges that exceed 200 meters in height. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Another water pipeline trail descends down along the edge of the Yunnan slope. Image by Eric Sakowski /


Satellite view showing the great high bridge crossings of the Beipanjiang in the upper right and Puli Bridge in the lower left.



Beipanjiang Bridge Duge location map.

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