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Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 16:01 UK

China opens 'longest sea bridge'

The six-lane bridge aims to cut traffic congestion in the booming region

China has formally opened what it says is the world's longest sea bridge with a ceremony and fireworks.

The 36km (22.5 mile) bridge spans the mouth of Hangzhou Bay in the East China Sea, linking the commercial capital Shanghai and the port city of Ningbo.

The road bridge will shorten the distance between the two cities by 120km (75 miles), reported the official Xinhua news agency.

Work began on the bridge in 2003, and it cost 11.8bn yuan ($1.7bn; Ł850m).

In a break with tradition, private firms provided almost a third of the investment needed for the project.

The bridge was opened on Thursday, and traffic will begin using the six-lane highway from midnight (1600 GMT).

Map

But traffic on the bridge will be regulated for a trial period, project managers told Xinhua, with heavy goods vehicles and vehicles carrying dangerous chemicals initially banned.

The bridge was built to address traffic congestion in the booming region, and will cut the driving time between Shanghai and Ningbo to two-and-a-half hours from four.

Chinese officials say the bridge is the longest sea-spanning structure.

It is about 2km short of the bridge across Lake Pontchartrain in the US state of Louisiana.




SEE ALSO
China finishes longest sea bridge
26 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China starts building longest sea bridge
08 Jun 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Thailand and Burma build bridges
19 May 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Germans build web 'bridge' to Beijing
29 Oct 02 |  Technology

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