China's Sidu River Bridge: Rockets were used to establish the highest span in the world.

China’s Sidu River Bridge Is So Long and High, Builders Used Rockets to Connect the Gap

China’s Sidu River Bridge Is So Long and High, Builders Used Rockets to Connect the Gap

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
April 30 2015 10:15 AM

The World’s Highest Bridge Was Built Using Rockets

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China has repeatedly bested itself (and others) in the competition for the world’s highest bridge. The current reigning champ is the Sidu River Bridge, which hangs over 1,600 vertigo-inducing feet above a canyon floor, connecting what amounts to two mountaintops. 

Opened in 2009, the Sidu River Bridge (which crosses the titular river, as one might expect), beat out the previous record-holding span, the Hegigio Gorge Pipeline Bridge in Papua New Guinea, which is suspended just over 1,200 feet above the ground.


The Sidu bridge was created as part of China’s ever-expanding highway system, connecting two disparate parts of the country that were previously separated by difficult, mountainous terrain, and multiple rivers. The bridge spans just over 5,000 feet across the river valley and was so long that the builders had to use a rocket to string the first pilot line across the gap. The hefty length is supported by two massive, H-shaped towers, one at both ends of the road. The suspension lines dip in the middle and rise back up again, looking more than a little flimsy for such a massive span. 

This is not to say that the bridge isn’t safe, as each of the massive, main suspension cables is capable of holding up over 43 million tons of weight, which should be more than adequate to support any number of vehicles that might want to make the trip across.

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Eric Grundhauser is a head writer and editor at Atlas Obscura. He lives in Brooklyn with his comic book collection. Follow him on Twitter.