30 of the world's highest bridges can be found in SW China's Guizhou province alone. The 10 most important ones I will introduce here with comments and images:
No.1 Baling He River Bridge
This bridge is 370m high above the river floor and has a 1.088m span between its two towers. It is the world's fourth highest bridge (the highest is the Siduhe River Bridge - 496m high in Hubei province)
Among the world's most prominent bridges Baling He is unique for having the 2nd longest span length with a distance between towers of 1088 m - nearly as long as the Golden Gate bridge! The gap is so great the bridge appears to be floating among the clouds as it connects two mountain ranges. Baling He is one of 4 high Chinese suspension bridges with extremely long spans. This year the world's longest span high level bridge record will go to China's Aizhai Bridge with a span of 1,176 m.
The design of Baling He is similar to some of China’s other long span suspension bridges that cross the lower end of the Yangtze.
Baling He bridge is located in a hot spot of high Chinese bridges and is approx. 161 km from 4 others in the region, including the three great crossings of the Beipanjiang river. The closest of the Beipanjiang bridges is on the same highway as Baling He about 32 km east and is among the world’s ten highest bridges at 330m. Near Baling He are the Huangguoshu waterfalls, the largest in China with a drop of 74m. Of all of China’s provinces, Guizhou will probably have the greatest number of high bridges as there are still several major and minor highways to be constructed within this decade.
If you are wondering why Baling He has the unusual span length of 1088 m, it relates to luck China does associate with the number 8. You will find many new bridges where at least the last digit it '8'.
1. Baling He River Bridge 370m high - 1,088 m span opened in 2009
2. Baling He River Bridge still under construction
When it opened end of 2003 is was the highest bridge in the world, 366m high above the Beipanjiang River and it also became in 2003 China's second span in just two years to take this honor. The first was in 2001 Liuguang He bridge. In addition, Beipanjiang became the first bridge to break the 300 meter height thresholds as well as the first suspension bridge in the world to surpass the height of Colorado’s Royal Gorge bridge after a 74-year reign.
The bridge is also the second of 3 Beipanjiang River crossings to have been among the world’s 10 highest. The first was the 275m Beipanjiang railway bridge which opened in 2001 and is the highest train bridge in the world. The third bridge to cross high above the Beipanjiang opened in 2009 on the Guiyang to Kunming Highway with a suspension span 330m above the river.
The 3 bridges are spaced about 80 km apart from each other. No other river on earth outside China has more than one high bridge over it - the Beipanjiang has 3!
The cliff beneath the west side of the bridge is nearly vertical for 244m. No other high bridge in the world has such an abyss-like drop-off. The narrow crevasse is so deep it also had the unique distinction of making the Beipanjiang the world’s first “10 second bridge”. It is a bridge so high that an object falling from the deck will be in free fall for more than 10 seconds before hitting the water.
The bridge is perfect for tourists with pedestrian friendly parking areas on both sides of the gorge as well as walkways along the edges of the span.
1. Beipanjiang River Bridge - 366m high and a span of 388m
Liuchong He - probably to be opened soon is the bridge with the second highest cable span on earth.
The bridge is part of a new highway between Zhijin and Qianxi in Guizhou Province. The expressway will eventually extend north to Renhuai and beyond. The Liuchong He River is a tributary of the Wujiang River which has more high bridges across it then any other river in the world except for the Beipanjiang River.
The Northeast side of the Liuchong canyon contains a nearly vertical cliff wall over 150m high. The two towers measure 190 and 157.6m. The spectacular location is nearly picture perfect with few roads or buildings anywhere in the area.
In late 2012 the bridge will join Mexico's Baluarte Bridge as one of only two cable stayed spans to exceed the height of the Millau Viaduct in France.
This is actually the 3rd Beipanjiang River Bridge which opened in November 2009. It's 318m high and became the 3rd Beipanjiang river crossing within 8 years ( 2 highway bridges and one rail bridge).
The first was the 275m high Beipanjiang railway bridge which debuted in 2001 as the highest railway bridge in the world. The second was the Beipanjiang 2003 bridge on the Xingyi to Guiyang Highway which opened as the world’s highest bridge with a suspension span of 366m above the river (see above in this thread). Btw, a fourth bridge is planned over the river. It is a highway bridge which connects Kunming and Bijie in the vicinity of the railway bridge.
When China began to expand its road and railway system in the 1990s, the river became the biggest obstacle between the city of Guiyang and the city of Kunming. To make a direct connection between the two cities, engineers had to bring their 4-lane highway across two great rivers, the Baling and the Beipanjiang. Although the Baling suspension bridge gets all the attention since it is the higher and longer of the two, the highway bridge over the Beipanjiang is nearly its equal with a height of 330m - ranking 8th among the world’s 10 highest bridges.
1. Beipanjiang River Bridge No. 3 - year of completion 2009 318m high - 636m span