2018-07-25 08:37:44

A bridge in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou that cost hundreds of millions of yuan to build has been seriously damaged in just four months of use after it was opened to traffic without passing a mandatory government inspection, state broadcaster China National Radio (CNR) reported Wednesday.

Located in Zhongmu County, Henan province, the Jialu River Bridge — which the local government boasts is the widest suspension bridge in Asia — has been under constant repair since it was opened on March 20. The three-year, nearly 300 million-yuan ($44.2 million) construction project was supposed to become Zhengzhou’s most prominent landmark. Today, however, half of its lanes are fenced-off for repairs, and steel plates are visible through gaping holes in the asphalt.

One of the workers tasked with repairing the 890-meter-long, 55-meter-wide bridge told CNR that when repairs on the eastern lanes are completed, the construction crew will move on to the western lanes. “It’s slanted here, and it’s cracked and warped over there,” he said.

The bridge construction project’s chief engineer, Li Yanyu of SinoHydro Bureau 11 Co. Ltd., a state-owned power company, told CNR that though the bridge was scheduled to officially open in late March, it had not passed a mandatory government inspection by then. It opened anyway, and a few days later, Li recommended, in writing, that the government entity in charge of the bridge — the International Cultural Creative Industry Park management committee — take measures to control the passage of overweight vehicles. His admonitions, he says, went unheeded.

Li told CNR that in the absence of supervision, overweight vehicles were the primary cause of the extensive bridge damage. Though the weight limit for individual vehicles is set at 55 tons, Li said that upon checking traffic camera footage, he saw many larger vehicles, including trailers weighing over 100 tons, crossing the bridge at night. “The bridge was being overrun,” he said. “There was bound to be damage.”

The head of the management committee, surnamed Liu, told CNR that the bridge was opened without passing inspection in order to relieve traffic pressure in Zhongmu County. Once the bridge is fully repaired and passes the inspection, he said, the authorities will take steps to control the overweight vehicles.

China’s Regulation on the Quality Management of Construction Projects states that construction projects must pass inspections before being put into use. In the event of a violation, the entity responsible for the project can be ordered to make reparations and fined up to 4 percent of the project’s cost.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: An aerial view of the Jialu River Bridge in Zhengzhou, Henan province, March 20, 2018. Huo Jianxun/IC)