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French photographer snaps Guizhou bridge project

China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 09:33

Gregoire de Gaulle takes photos at the construction site of the Huajiang Grand Canyon Bridge in Guizhou province on April 27. LUO FEI/XINHUA

GUIYANG — Standing on a catwalk hundreds of meters high in the air, Gregoire de Gaulle felt a gust of wind whistling in his ears.

As the platform swayed slightly, he held on to a safety rope with one hand and raised his camera with the other to photograph builders working on the Huajiang Grand Canyon Bridge at around the same height.

The 68-year-old French photographer was deeply impressed with the people working on the bridge, a key project of an expressway in Southwest China's Guizhou province. Upon completion, the bridge is expected to be the world's highest, with a vertical drop of 625 meters.

Bridge builders often carry out heavy lifting operations hundreds of meters up in the air and also have to cope with harsh weather conditions, including sudden rainstorms and high winds.

"The construction scene is particularly spectacular, especially these brave bridge builders. They not only have to overcome psychological factors like a fear of heights, but also need to complete the bridge construction tasks well, which is particularly commendable," De Gaulle said.

He was visiting Guizhou for the second time, having recently taken part in a photo event with several Chinese photographers to tour several world-class bridges under construction in the mountainous province.

The Huajiang Grand Canyon boasts magnificent scenery, but it is also a natural barrier that hinders transport and regional development. It takes more than two hours to drive along the winding mountain road to reach the other side. Once the bridge is completed, it will take less than two minutes to cross the canyon.

China's immense investment in building world-class bridges will bring significant changes to the socioeconomic development of the regions along the routes, De Gaulle said.

The charm of the bridges lies not only in their spectacular appearance and complex craftsmanship but also in the convenience they will provide for motorists, he said.

With 92.5 percent of its land covered by mountains and hills, Guizhou has been committed to eliminating transport bottlenecks. Currently, the province has built over 200,000 kilometers of highways, with over 8,000 km of expressways in operation.

Guizhou, dubbed a "bridge museum", has nearly 30,000 bridges built or under construction, including nearly half the world's 100 tallest bridges.

While improving transport, Guizhou has also actively promoted the deep integration of transport infrastructure with tourism, injecting new vitality into the tourism sector in the province.

Liu Hao, chief engineer of the Huajiang Grand Canyon Bridge project, said that a bridge-tourism integration demonstration project is being accelerated to build the bridge into a top-class scenic area.

The bridge-tourism integration project, which includes a 100-meter-high observation elevator, rock climbing, a scenic water bar and a restaurant, was a big surprise to De Gaulle.

"These plans have changed my perception of traditional bridges as pure transport facilities," he said, adding that the bridge-tourism integration will help the world gain a deeper understanding of the construction techniques and functions of China's bridges.


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