he Jialu River Bridge outside of the Henan capital of Zhengzhou took more than three years and 300 million yuan ($43 million) to build, but, only four months after it opened for traffic, without first passing a required government inspection, it is already crumbling apart.
After being inaugurated on March 20th, the 890-meter-long bridge was praised for its unique design, labeled by its creators as the broadest suspension bridge in Asia at 55 meters wide. It garnered much media attention and was hailed as Zhengzhou’s newest landmark.
However, public opinion of the bridge has since shifted with critics decrying its “tofu construction” after images leaked online showing cracks and holes on the surface of the road. In some places, even the structural steel plates underneath are exposed.
The chief engineer in charge of the project has told China National Radio (CNR) that the bridge’s management committee is to blame for the road’s shoddy condition, noting that the bridge was inaugurated earlier than had been expected and without first passing a legally-required government inspection.
Furthermore, the engineer claims that after the bridge opened, he wrote twice to the management committee, insisting that regulations be established to limit overweight vehicles from driving over the bridge. He says that this recommendation was completely ignored by the committee and soon the bridge began to inevitably show signs of being worn down by heavy trucks laden with goods.
As for why a major bridge would open without first passing all mandated official inspections, the head of the management committee explained that the bridge needed to open early in order to reduce heavy traffic congestion in the area with another bride currently being demolished and rebuilt and another highway still under construction.
At the moment, the lanes on one side of the bridge have been fenced off for repair. Once construction workers finish repairing the damage, they will move on to mending the remaining lanes. Then, the management committee will consider introducing limits on overweight vehicles, so that this cycle does not repeat itself over and over again for the rest of eternity.