Source: © Robert Essel/Corbis

Kobe, Japan --- The Akashi Strait Bridge in Kyoto, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan is the longest suspension bridge in the world. --- Image by © Robert Essel/Corbis

By: Miya Weintraub

This is a picture of the Akashi Kaikyo bridge in Kobe, Japan. It is the longest suspension bridge in the world, measuring 12,831 feet in length, and 928 feet tall. The bridge has 6 lanes and took ten years to complete. The two main supporting towers stand at 975 feet above the straights surface which makes it one of the tallest bridges in the world. The central span of the bridge was originally planned to be 6,529 feet, but the Kobe earthquake in 1995 had forced the two bridges to spread outwards during construction.

Because this bridge is in such a dangerous place in the middle of some of the strongest storms, the bridge can expand and contract a couple feet every day. The valuable bridge connecting the cities Kobe and Iwaya is placed in a dengerous area, and because of this, engineers have to use complex counterweights, pendulums, and steel truss-girders to hold up against the 180 mile-per-hour winds blowing past the bridge. The challenges the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is facing has inspired engineers to innovate new wind-tunnel and cable-fabrication technology.

The Akashi Kaikyo wasn’t just built to break a world record. It was actually suggested by the people of Kobe, Japan. In 1955, a ferry carrying over one hundred children was sunken after colliding with another ferry. One hundred and sixty eight children and parents were killed during this disaster. Because of this event, politicians in Japan pressured for the Akashi Straight Bridge to be built. So in 1988, the construction began, and in 1998 it was completed.

Fun Facts:

  • Approximately 2 million people had to work on the bridge for 10 years to complete it
  • This process used 180,000 tons of steel, and 1.4 million cubic meters of concrete
  • This bridge has set 3 different world records: The strongest, longest, and most expensive bridge in the world
  • The bridge was still under construction when the earthquake struck the country

Here is a video about the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.