China’s record-breaking Jiaozhou bridge ‘is safe’

Jiaozhou Bridge, China
Jiaozhou Bridge, China

A reader submits this: BBC News says China’s record-breaking Jiaozhou bridge ‘is safe’.
Here the ‘scare quotes’ are entirely appropriate.

The chief engineer of the world’s longest sea-bridge, in China, has denied claims that its construction was rushed to allow it to open on schedule.
Shao Xinpeng told state media that the Jiaozhou bridge, opened last Thursday, was safe and ready for traffic.
Chinese media reported finding incomplete crash-barriers, missing lighting and loose nuts on guard-rails.
Reports blamed workers’ haste to finish the bridge in time for the Communist Party’s 90th anniversary.
In a report earlier this week, a journalist from the state-run CCTV news channel unscrewed pieces of the guard-rails and showed that the lighting system was not working properly.
Construction workers told CCTV that it would take two months before finishing all of the projects related to the bridge.
But Mr Shao said the problems highlighted in the reports were not major.
“The status of secondary features does not affect the main project or the opening of the bridge,” he told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
He added that the lighting system was only aesthetic.
The structure spans 42.4km (26.3 miles), connecting the eastern coastal city of Qingdao to the suburb of Huangdao, in Jiaozhou Bay.
State media say the bridge passed construction tests last Monday and it opened to traffic on Thursday.
It is 4km longer than the previous world record-holder, the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in the US state of Louisiana.

There are also disputes about this being the longest bridge over water in the world, since it is curved, while the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is straight, and so goes over a longer body of water. Wikipedia writes “There is no standard way to measure the total length of a bridge. Some bridges are measured from the beginning of the entrance ramp to the end of the exit ramp. Some are measured from shoreline to shoreline. Yet others are the length of the total construction involved in building the bridge. Since there is no standard, no ranking of a bridge should be assumed because of its position in the list. ” Also note many bridges are longer (and in China) but not over water.

Green Roads Construction: Are Contractors Our Roadblock?

A reader sends this along ….Green Roads Construction: Are Contractors Our Roadblock?
The article argues in favor of green construction techniques, (construction results in a great deal of CO2 emissions, e.g.) and suggests the barrier is the cost-plus contracting system found in many places which rewards contractors for higher costs. An excerpt below:

“The lone region that’s scrapped “cost-plus” contracting, North Carolina, is indicative of the untapped potential of green construction. Instead of awarding contractors on a cost-plus basis, North Carolina has established road performance criteria. That means contractors in North Carolina have to bear the cost of asphalt themselves and can use any method available to them as long as they meet the standards set forth by the engineer.

“What [we] need to do is say, ‘Roads need to be paved to this standard, give me the least cost contract.’ Let the contractor take up the risk of the asphalt. If they think they can do it and meet the standard through hot in-place recycling, they’ll do it. They may make more profits in the process, but that is what you want – you want to incentivize more sustainable roads.” – Hadi Dowlatabadi

And guess, what? North Carolina has the lowest cost of road construction in all of North America. Coincidentally, it’s also home to the highest amount of hot in-place recycling. Consider this, in British Columbia it costs $25/square meter to build a road; in North Carolina it costs roughly $19/square meter. It’s no surprise that these lower costs result in higher profits without the need to use more asphalt.”