A bridge is a useful tool that can connect distant points separated by water, marshland or difficult terrain. Whether traveled on foot or by car or rail, bridges are as essential for transporting goods and services as they are for cutting down the travel time between two distant points.
But bridges represent something else, too. Something far more difficult to quantify. Something perhaps best described as a feeling – the type of emotion just as likely to arise when viewing a famous of work of art. This sense of awe and beauty draws people to bridges not only for their utilitarian function, but as iconic points worth admiring in their surrounding landscapes. Think of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, with its Art Deco towers rising out of the mist like cathedral spires. Or the majestic Tower Bridge that spans the river Thames in London.
Whether as part of one’s daily commute or as a vital artery that keeps an economy moving, these bridges have something else in common: their incredible length. A testament to human ingenuity, here are 10 of the longest bridges in the world, connecting lives — and breaking records while doing it.
- Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, China
- Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct, Taiwan
- Cangde Grand Bridge, China
- Tianjin Grand Bridge, China
- Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge, China
- Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China
- Bang Na Expressway, Thailand
- Beijing Grand Bridge, China
- Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, United States
- Line 1 Wuhan Metro, China
1. Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, China
The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China is a marvel spanning more than 100 miles (165 kilometers), making it the longest bridge in the world. The bridge, which officially opened in June 2011, was built in just four years to provide high-speed rail service across China. The bridge spans a variety of obstacles, including several canals and lakes. The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge cost a whopping $8.5 billion to construct but has been designed to withstand not only typhoons and magnitude 8 earthquakes, but also direct hits from naval vessels weighing up to 330,000 tons (300,000 metric tons).
2. Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct, Taiwan
The world’s second-longest bridge is the Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct in Taiwan. The viaduct, which is a bridge comprised of a series of smaller bridges, is part of Taiwan’s High Speed Rail network and spans a length of 97 miles (157 kilometers). The Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct was specifically constructed as a series of connected bridges to better withstand most earthquakes. This is an important safety consideration because Taiwan is located at the junction of two tectonic plates — the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate — and as a result, has a higher frequency of seismic activity.
3. Cangde Grand Bridge, China
China’s Cangde Grand Bridge is the third-longest bridge in the world. It measures 72 miles (116 kilometers) in length and is part of an important arterial railway that transports people to and from Beijing. As part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, the Cangde Grand Bridge comprises part of a more massive bridge that may sound familiar: the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge. Like other parts of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, the Cangde Grand Bridge is designed to withstand most seismic shifts.
4. Tianjin Grand Bridge, China
The location of the fourth-longest bridge in the world may come without surprise: China. To keep China’s extensive high-speed rail system zooming along, saving commuters time on their journeys, a series of bridges allow the trains to skim over low-lying areas, water and other obstacles. The fourth-longest bridge is the Tianjin Grand Bridge located in Hebei, in Tianjin, China, which opened to rail traffic in 2011. Measuring 70 miles (113 kilometers) long, the Tianjin Grand Bridge is held up by a series of reinforced girders that weigh up to 860 tons (780 metric tons) each.
5. Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge, China
When the Weinan Weihe Grand Bridge in China was first opened to traffic in 2008, it held the title of “longest bridge in the world” at approximately 49 miles (79 kilometers) in length. While it was eventually surpassed by the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, Cangde Grand Bridge and Tianjin Grand Bridge in China and the Changhua-Kaohsiung Viaduct in Taiwan, at the time it was an engineering feat marveled the world over. As part of the Zhengzhou-Xi’an High-Speed Railway system, it played a critical role by connecting the cities of Zhengzhou and Xi’an, crossing a number of rivers and significantly lessening commuting time.
6. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China
When the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge opened in October 2018, it became the world’s sixth-longest bridge. The bridge connects Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau and consists of a series of three cable-stayed bridges, an undersea tunnel and four artificial islands. The bridge is 34 miles (55 kilometers) long, it is both the longest sea-crossing bridge and the longest open-sea fixed bridge in the world.
7. Bang Na Expressway, Thailand
The Bang Na Expressway in Thailand may be the seventh-longest bridge in the world, but it could probably hold a second title as the world’s longest car bridge. While the first six-longest bridges in the world are used exclusively for high-speed rail, the Bang Na Expressway is a six-lane elevated highway with toll stations on each end. The Bang Na Expressway is 34 miles (55 kilometers) in length and allows drivers to zip across Bangkok without getting held up in the traffic of the Bang Na-Trat Highway (or National Highway route 34), which runs below it.
8. Beijing Grand Bridge, China
The Beijing Grand Bridge is situated south of its namesake city of Beijing. This bridge is one of several located in China that have made the list and, like several others, is part of the Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway system. The Beijing Grand Bridge, which officially opened in 2011, is 30 miles (48 kilometers) in length, which puts it in eighth place among the world’s longest bridges. It was built to connect the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Economic Rim on China’s Eastern coast; both regions require railway transportation to export their supplies of agricultural and natural resources.
9. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, United States
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana is the only bridge in the United States to rank among the world’s longest bridges. At nearly 24 miles (39 kilometers), this southern Louisiana bridge comes in at ninth on our list. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is actually comprised of two parallel bridges of nearly the same length, with the first bridge opening in 1956 and the second bridge in 1969. At an imprecise mark, motorists are usually not able to see land on either side of the bridge. The bridge is so long that it is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the “longest bridge over water in the world (continuous),” and at its center there is a bascule (another name for drawbridge) that can raise to let ships pass.
10. Line 1 Wuhan Metro, China
In the city of Wuhan in Hubei, China, there is an elevated metro rail line simply named “Line 1.” Although this may seem like a rather inauspicious name, Line 1 is actually a world record holder. At 23.5 miles (38 kilometers) in length, Line 1 is not only the tenth-longest bridge, but also is one of the longest continuous metro viaducts in the world.