Record: 503 m
Height Record: 208 m
Main Span Record: 343 m
Clearance below Record: 190 m
Xiaohe is the second of two massive steel arch bridges located on the G50 West Hurong expressway that now connects Shanghai on the Pacific coast with the cities of Chongqing and Chengdu in the west. Located about 50 miles (80 km) south of the famous 3 Gorges region of the Yangtze River in China’s mountainous Hubei Province, the bridge is just one of several amazing structures on the last 300 mile (483 km) link of the 1,350 mile (2,175 km) long highway. Xiaohe is the baby brother to Zhijinghe, the highest roadway arch bridge in the world.
Like Zhijinghe, the Xiaohe bridge is one of China’s many concrete filled steel tubular arch bridges. Constructed with a highline supported by two temporary towers on each side of the gorge, each steel section of the arch was held in place with stay cables until the two halves were joined in the middle. Once the arch was closed, concrete was pumped into the largest steel tubes from the bottom up. Once hardened, the concrete solidified and stiffened the arch, improving the compressive strength of the entire structure. Scheduled for completion sometime in 2010, Xiaohe will be the last of the major bridges on the highway to open. The bridge is 15 miles (24 kms) west of Enshi.