China, it seems, can't build fast enough or big enough these days, be it new airport terminals, dams, buildings for the Olympics, coal fired power plants, or bridges. In fact, last week China opened the world's longest sea bridge, spanning 22-miles across Hangzhou Bay, linking Shanghai and Ningbo, an industrial city. The previous record holder was the 20.2-mile long Donghai bridge, which links Shanghai and a port by the name of Yangshan.
So what will the bridge accomplish? The vice-president of an electric company based in Ningbo said it best: "I think it will be easier for our company to recruit high-calibre employees, who always prefer working in small cities like Cixi but living in big cities like Shanghai. They can leave Shanghai for Cixi in the morning and go back in the afternoon. It's only 1.5 hours' drive." Aside from the living in big cities part, that sounds a lot like America. Granted, the bridge will reduce the driving distance between the two cities by 75 miles, but it will clearly enable increased sprawl, congestion and car-ownership. But hey, given development patterns in the U.S. over the last 50 years, who are we to judge?Amazingly, the gargantuan project was completed in under five years, and is supposedly designed to last 100 years. One wonders whether a different sort of infrastructure project--such as a high-speed rail line--would have been a better long-term investment for the country. Then again, in China, as in most countries around the world, the near-term is nearly all that matters. It's just that in China the scale of everything--the mistakes and the successes--are orders of magnitude greater than they are anywhere else in the world.
See Also: ::General Electric Opens Wind Turbine Plant in China, ::The World's Largest Subway and other Chinese Adventures, ::Qinghai-Tibet Rail Green Travel Guide, ::Tibet: When "Sustainable" Development Goes Awry, ::When Nature Won't Cooperate in China, Photoshop!, and ::Building a Green China